P.S. Sorry if that doesn't actually link...
Hi followers (meaning Mom, Nana, Aunt Jenny, Corey, Megan, and Nageh)!!! I've transferred to a new, hopefully more specialized blog. Here's the link; I hope to see you all there!
P.S. Sorry if that doesn't actually link...
I just fell in love with my own character. Notice he has a last name, as I intend this story to be longer than my others and...wait for it...not specifically for children! I actually dreamed some of it the night I spent in Nana's room (Mo slept over), and in the morning Nana handed me a notepad and pen with instructions to write it down. Thus, a story temporarily titled "Dream Story." Catchy, right? Here's some of it I was just working on. It's still rather rough.
Chinatown is very loud and very stressful place. Without a friend it is hardly enjoyable, and every time I visit I end up wondering why. Everyone pushes. Everyone yells. Venders shove all their breakables into the street so that children will break and parents will buy. For eight years a ceramic black lab without a tail sat upon my dresser, keeping memories of my mother’s scolding voice and squeezing hand. A two-inch layer of stickiness covers the buildings and streets like plastic on a sofa. Shop after shop sells the same gaudy merchandise: popsicle stick-and-tissue fans, shimmery tops in cracking and yellowed covers, ostentatious paper lanterns. A small, greenish-white statue of a woman nursing her baby. Beside it one of the same woman, this time her mouth open in fright as a Gollum like infant winds over her shoulder and bites for more than just milk. Something for everyone, I guess.
But this day Caleb was my companion. I’d forgotten how different of a person he was now. He used to have days where he couldn't look in my eyes. Often I’d have to beg before he would go anywhere. As much as he despised the familiar he seemed to dread the strange even more. Now he wanted to spend the day in Chinatown.
And what a Chinatown it was. Still loud, still sticky, still garish; but grand and wonderful and exciting. The fans turned fit for the hold of gloved fingers, the tops into humbly cased princess gowns, the lanterns whimsical hints of present joy and joy to come. We assumed every person warm and happy, and those clearly neither melted away into our warmth and our happiness. Caleb vanished into a toy shop and returned with a pair of kazoos, which, though in no sense Chinese, are the dearest possessions of two friends on holiday. Being infinitely more musical than I my friend took reign of a core melody, leaving me to harmonize and embellish as my inner composer insisted. Our opus rather annoyed the more solemn passersby, so we ducked into an alcove between storefronts and soon had a fixed semicircle of audience. When happy Caleb lit the world like Libertas’s torch. People flocked and clapped around this young man about to burst with all that is right and true and excellent, all the good the world has and some that it does not. A girl with the waistless figure and splotched face of one between child and womanhood stood nearer to us than the others, her dark eyes glossy with suppressed delight at my friend’s emancipated and full delight. Grinning around his instrument he skipped toward her with steps Buster Keaton would be proud of, and between flushed cheeks her little mouth dropped open to the sweet notes of silly gladness dancing before her. He danced and danced for his shy lady, at last dropping on his knees a mere breath from her face, playing out one long final tone before pulling the kazoo from his lips and placing it at her feet. Then he closed his eyes and laughed like Christmas.
Petite hands took his face, and the girl kissed him on the mouth. He looked in the eyes just as surprised as his own, bowed his head with a smile, and collapsed to the ground as if fainted. The girl picked up the kazoo and scampered away.
The happiness around us rang closer, and Caleb looked up just in time to see a swarm of squealing girls closing over him. He fell trying to stand, but I grasped his wrist and we flew. Minutes later we arrived at the entrance of a sit-down restaurant, laughing uncontrollably.
Here's the story! The intro ends at the first *****. Thanks!
No one likes bats. Well, I guess I can’t say ‘no one,’ because I like bats, and I have a good friend who likes bats. Not many people like bats.
Chances are that you don’t like bats. You probably think they’re nasty little creatures with skeletal faces and shrill voices; wide, bony wings and dripping fangs. You think bats only show up in frightening places: creepy houses, damp caves. You think they must be scary, because they only come out at night. Nice things come out in the day.
However, I must tell you, this is not so. At least I’ve never met a scary bat. Granted I’ve only met a few, but they’re all dear friends. One, Asher, has allowed me to write out his story for you. Which is quite an honor because he’s terribly shy; it took Angelea months of coaxing before he managed to tell me!
Gracious, I ’m getting so ahead of myself! Enough of my chatter--you must be fairly desperate to hear the story now. Just one warning: if you are determined to dislike bats forever, you will want to close this book. You will love them once I am through.
He loved the people sounds. The running, the scuffling, the squeaking, the chatting, the clinking, the banging, the snoring, the laughing. Especially the laughing. A father, a mother, a nanny, three little girls, and one little boy lived in his house. Sharing a home with them filled his life with more joy than he’d ever known existed.
Although he didn’t really live with them. He lived in their attic. Once in a while he snuck down to watch them: watch them play and learn and bicker. But they never saw him.
His name was Asher and he was a bat. He didn’t mind being a bat. Fruit and bugs tasted delicious, the dark kept his body comfortable and his eyes bright, to fly was to take a tiny taste of life’s true sweetness. The problem about being a bat; the only, single problem; was that he lived in forced solitude. He had no friends. His shyness far exceeded that of most bats, so the other bats didn’t like him all too much. No other creature seemed to desire a bat-friend, so he kept out of their ways completely. There seemed to be no one in the world whom he could even talk to.
That’s why he adored the people. With each other they showed no shyness. The little girls giggled and tittered to no end. The little boy made mischief on them, and though one moment they chided and scolded him the next they hugged and kissed him so that he could never escape.
Asher knew he’d never leave them. All the other bats lived in caves. He had too until the mining began. The miners bored and pounded and made all the cave shake. Besides that their shouting never ceased. The sound was like constant anger. And their blinding lights scalded his eyes and they looked so rough--he wouldn’t survive a minute if he fell into one of those enormous, knotted hands. He had become absolutely terrified of them. The other bats scorned him because not one of them had ever been harmed by a miner or had reason to think the miners cruel. But Asher couldn’t help it, even though he knew that he really had nothing to fear. The sounds and the lights and the forms petrified him.
One windy night, as he hung by himself on the cave’s roof, one of the lights caught him. It seemed to burn through his skin and hurt even more in his eyes, but he couldn’t escape it. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t even blink.
“Look how small he is,” the miner with the light said. “I’ve seen plenty of bats in my time, but he’s extremely small even for a small bat.”
“Is he a baby?” the miner’s friend asked.
“Nah. He’s not a baby.”
“Make him fly. I want to see him fly.”
The light flashed off and on him: rapidly, shockingly. He longed to turn away and hide in his wings, but kept entirely still. He truly could not move.
“C’mon batty!” the friend shouted. “Fly for us!”
The light flared on and off and on and off and his head spun in a dizzy swirl. Spun because the light confused him and because he couldn’t remember ever being more frightened. At last the freeze loosed his grip on the rock he hung from, and he fell.
Smack! He slammed against the cave’s rocky floor. Stunned and hurting he lay still, soon feeling something take him up. It turned him over, and prodded his head, and spoke raspy words--
The miners! Frantically he flapped his wings, and yanked himself free, screeching and screeching as he flew from the cave into the frigid night. He flew, and flew and flew, until realizing that he had utterly lost himself.
He turned around, but the cave was no where in sight. He screeched at it, but it didn’t echo back to him. But for the wind which forced him into constant motion and careful maneuvering he would have cried. Home was miles away, and in which direction he knew not. Though he must find shelter somewhere; each passing minute left him colder and stiffer.
Now he glided over a town. At least he thought it must be a town, for he’d never actually seen one. Hundreds of little houses swooshed by as he kept flying. In spite of the rushing wind he at last felt tears trickling down his face. Well, they tried to trickle: they froze to his cheeks before traveling far. All of him would freeze soon.
What was that? It looked like a small opening. He flew closer, the cold catching his breath as he prayed and prayed for it to be--it was! A tiny, open window beckoned from the tip top of a house. Gratefully he clambered in, squished into a corner, and fell asleep.
He only woke because he heard voices. Voices! He started up, spun about…and found no one. Still he heard human voices. Timidly he set his ear to the floor. The voices came from below. Looking around he saw that only a very small human, without crawling, could fit into the room he occupied. He was in a human house, but no one could find him.
Thus began Asher’s love of humans. Human voices, human scuffles, human songs. He heard all, and sometimes, if he gathered his courage, saw all. The thin wood strip acting as a door between the attic and house moved with the lightest push, so he could enter the house proper any time he pleased. Though he didn’t please often.
Extreme caution defined how he moved about. Slip out the door, glide to where the dark molding met the ceiling, swish to the tall grandfather clock and hide behind its great filigree top. From behind the clock he could peer down into the main room: see the children scampering about, the thin grey woman chasing them, the fine man and lady appear every once in a while. A house suited him better than a cave. He liked the warmth of it, since he found himself constantly cold. That seemed strange to him. The cave had always been cold, and he’d most always been alone in it, but had never even been uncomfortable. The first time he’d felt cold, real cold, was when he’d flown away from the cave. Yet now the cold held to him like a virus. Only the warmth of the house proper relieved some of his chronic chill.
That little fair-haired boy did adore causing trouble. Now he slid on an enormous rug, now tormented his sisters with a wooden sword, now climbed up a damask curtain so that Asher feared he’d fall. Although he didn’t mind falling. Sometimes he threw himself down from high places, then laughed violently, almost maniacally. He inspired strange feelings in Asher. Fear, actually, because he was not a gentle child, nor a child whose lack of gentleness stemmed from innate joy. No, his lack of gentleness stemmed from a streak of cruelty. He was smart, meanly smart, easily deceiving his parents and nanny and sisters. Perhaps not his father, but the man always seemed pleased with his son. Asher saw all this, and therefore feared the boy entirely, but he was only a child. What causes cruelty in a child? Asher didn’t know, and thought his instincts about the boy’s character must be false.
He lived in the house through the chilled February, and cool April, and warm July. Watching the children relieved more of his loneliness than anything else ever had. He felt a friendship with them, even though they had no idea of his existence. He knew that Hannah always wanted to be outside, and that Ashley drew pencil sketches when she was supposed to be studying, and that Emily would someday invoke music from the never-touched piano. More than anything he longed to fly down and merge into their fairy stories--but he didn’t. He feared too much. What he feared he didn’t know: the little hands which climbed trees and painted birds and plucked keys wouldn’t hurt him. But he simply couldn’t go down.
Until someone needed him, anyway. By early September the nanny had all but given up watching the boy. He tore through the house like a razor through tissue, upsetting anything in his way. Asher held his breath, worried the child would get hurt--and then it happened! A rug skid from beneath the boy, sending him sliding until tripping and hitting his head on the corner of a glass tabletop. The boy screamed, blood dripping from his ripped cheek, and without a second thought Asher swooped down beside him.
He dropped beside the child’s face and began wiping the blood with his wing, then froze. The boy had stopped screaming. Stopped even crying. Kept absolutely silent. Kept silent and stared, shocked, straight into Asher’s face. The tiny bat also stiffened, and shivered, all at once freezing cold, as the boy reached forward and grabbed him.
At first the dirty hand held just so that he didn’t fall, but quickly grew tighter and tighter. He squirmed first in discomfort, then in pain, but the hand only squeezed harder, harder, harder. Now he gave a tiny screech, the pain becoming unbearable, and looked imploringly into the boy’s eyes. But the eyes didn’t soften. They looked happy. Wickedly happy. Harder, harder--
“Stop, please stop!” Asher cried.
The boy started, for a moment relaxing his grip. Asher may have fainted from relief if the hand hadn’t instantly regained its former mercilessness, plus some.
“You can speak?” the boy asked.
Asher nod violently.
He couldn’t respond; his lungs all but crushed.
“How!” the boy shook him.
“I can’t breathe!”
“I can’t! I, I…”
Was that water? Now he coughed, and coughed--water again! All around him, all around, all…up again!
Asher burst into uncontrollable tears.
“Be quiet, will you!” The boy tightened his clutch.
“Don’t! Don’t squeeze me again!”
“Then be quiet and listen to me!”
By sheer will Asher silenced himself, laying his head to a sticky thumb because he hadn’t the strength to hold it up.
“Tell me,” the boy began. “How can you speak?”
“I don’t know. I think just like you.”
“Can all bats speak?”
“Maybe. I’ve never seen another bat try before. I’d never tried before.”
“How’d you get in the house?”
“The window, in the attic. It was open.”
“You just came in?”
“I’m sorry. It was so cold.”
“You really are a baby! You know what I could do to you for breaking into my house?”
Asher again burst out crying.
“Sh-h! If you keep up that noise I will do something to you.”
He shook as with a vicious fever. At that moment he would give anything, anything at all, for something kind. A stream of warm air, a soft voice, a careful touch. He’d almost never had any of these luxuries, yet he could imagine relaxing in warmth, or calming at a word, or melting beneath gentle fingers. His longings grew and grew so that they became nearly as torturing as the boy’s hand.
“I don’t have any ideas for you yet,” the boy said, strutting through a hallway. “You’ll just have to wait.” He came to a large bedroom, opened a drawer, and pulled out a ball of thick string. Asher twisted, but one brutal squeeze made him rigid. The boy wrapped him in the string, scoring grooves all over him. Immediately after, the boy placed him in a chest, closed the top, and left.
Being a bat, he had never known fear of the dark. But now all was dark. Not one hint of light penetrated this horrible box. He had no idea of anything around him: not the prickly something poking his back, not the furry something irritating his feet. He knew only that the cords binding him hurt horribly, that he found breathing difficult, that he couldn’t hope to escape, and that worse was coming.
It must have been the next day when the boy opened the chest. To Asher it seemed weeks--weeks in which the throbbing of his entire body doubled every few minutes and in which he never stopped crying. The boy picked him up, turned him over a few times, and snipped the string. Asher gasped as his limbs unfurled, and collapsed into the boy’s palm.
“I have a job for you now,” the boy said.
Asher didn’t reply. The world dipped and moaned like a stormy day.
“Ugly thing! You’ll do perfectly for my sister.”
His sister? Which one? It didn’t matter; all were welcome news. They were good girls. At least they weren’t like their brother. Maybe they’d see how hurt he was and rescue him. He needed rescuing.
He jerked from a shooting pain in his wing.
“Wake up! You can’t scare my sister by just sitting there.”
Scare her? He wouldn’t! Nothing would make him frighten one of those sweet girls.
“Here we are.” The boy opened a door. “Go!”
Asher felt himself thrown into the air; thankfully his wings had unclamped enough to let him fly. But a scream…did he really hear a scream? The fog surrounded him so thickly. He looked down. It was Emily. Good little Emily who spent hours simply staring at the piano. Happily he swooped down toward her.
She screamed. She had screamed, and screamed again. Terrified. She was terrified.
“He’ll eat you!” the boy yelled. “He’ll drink your blood! He’ll eat you!”
She cried out louder, cowering, covering her face.
Asher tried to inch toward her, but a sudden tug on his leg yanked him backward. He looked and saw some of the cruel string tied about his leg, the boy reeling him in like a fish.
More screaming. The other girls. All looking at him and screaming. Emily so afraid she sat bawling on the floor. He tried to fly, still yanked in, but in the air, pulled lower, with the screaming, lower--
Thwack! He hit the ground as if smacked by an eagle. Looking up he saw the father, with a broom--
Hit again! Now he popped up, his head violently spinning, all his will set on getting away. No more tug on his leg. The boy yelling and chasing. The father yelling and hitting. The women and girls screaming.
The door! He saw it, closer, closer…Thwack! That broom! But up once more. At last, there, right there…he was out.
Out and zipping away. More screaming. Why? Looking down he saw every girl and every lady shielding herself in horror. Men grabbing at the string. Tug here, tug there. He must go higher. Up he shot. Faster he flew. Away. Just away, because he had nowhere to go.
His energy faded. He needed rest. Where? He saw no caves. No open attic windows. He must rest. The cold crept back. He’d never warmed, but fleeing had soothed a little. Now the cold seeped through. More and more he felt once again bound in those cords. All of him hurt. None of him wanted to work properly.
Not an open window, but a hole in the roof. Maybe the house was vacant. That would work better. No human could love him. No one could love him. This thought played itself over in his head. No one could love him.
This time, as the last, he was entirely too exhausted to hang from his feet. Curling up on the splintery floor almost took too much effort. He lay quivering, crying because he was hurt and frightened and cold and lonely.
It was dark out now. The people yelled. Not the children, the grown people.
But how did he hear them? He remembered that he was in a different house, one he thought vacant. Apparently it wasn’t vacant. So he must leave. He couldn’t be with people again.
Not that he adored them any less. He couldn’t stay because they feared him. He may never forget little Emily, screaming and cowering before him. And those who didn’t fear him were like that boy, whom the mere thought of made him shake.
The yelling came closer, closer, and creaking. Small, hurried creaking. Asher’s heart nearly stopped; he sprung into the air and out through the roof--then back again. The string! It had caught between two loose boards. Rapidly he flew to it, tried to pull it out…it wouldn’t budge. He pulled and pulled, the creaks closing in, until he had to leave it, and fly as far as the string would allow toward the part of the roof where there was no hole. Here a thin piece of wood covered where the roof met in its point. Just as he slipped into this six-inch space a hatch opened.
He heard the small steps enter and the hatch close behind. It seemed he could feel the boy’s vicious hand sealing around him, growing tighter each instant. The string seared into his leg, he saw those wicked eyes--
“Let me go!” Someone had tugged the string! He tried to cry out again, but instead burst into hysterical tears.
“I’m sorry!” said a girl’s voice. “I didn’t know you were there! Stop crying; do stop crying.”
“Please, I won’t hurt you. Are you stuck?” She touched the string.
“Don’t be afraid; I just need a little slack.”
The string dragged Asher closer to the edge of his hiding place; his clutching fingers proved useless to prevent the girl from pulling him as she pleased. He begged her to let him be, begged her to show kindness.
He could move! He scrambled to the furthest edge of the tiny loft, fished in the string…and found the end frayed. The girl had broken it. She’d freed him.
“You’re not injured, are you?” she asked.
Asher sat trembling with his back squashed to the wall. He hardly believed what had happened.
“That string isn’t cutting you, is it? I’ll get scissors up here as soon as I can; if it is cutting you I’ll find a way to get them here tonight. I can’t get to them now: the door’s locked.”
“Thank you,” Asher said, grateful tears filling his eyes.
“You sound awful,” the girl replied. “Will you let me tend you?”
“You’re hurt and sick, I can tell by your voice.”
“I’m not very hurt, just my leg a little.”
“Is that where that horrible string is? I’ll cut it off very soon.”
“I don’t think I’m sick.”
“Being so scared counts as being sick. Won’t you come down?”
“I won’t hurt you.”
“I believe you.”
“But you still won’t come?”
“All right. I’m Angelea; what’s your name?”
“That’s fun! Both our names start with ‘A.’”
Asher laughed a little. “It is fun.”
“When did you come here, Asher?”
“It must have been late this morning, because I came up around eight and didn’t see you.”
The little bat peered timidly over the loft. Angelea wasn’t looking up, so he could look at her. She had long dark hair and lovely, sad brown eyes the color of rich chocolate.
“You’re beautiful,” Asher said. The girl flipped up her head and he shrunk back.
“That isn’t fair,” she said. “You can look at me, but I can’t look at you.”
“Forgive me. I’m afraid.”
“But I promise not to harm you; I’ll sit on my hands if you’d feel safer.”
“I know you’d be good to me. It’s a different type of afraid.”
Just then the hatch opened, chilling Asher to the heart.
“I have to go,” Angelea whispered. “I’ll come soon.”
The door shut, and he was alone. Looking again at the frayed end of string he wondered. Wondered if it had dug into her hands while she snapped it. Wondered if it carved the same grooves it had on him. He wished he weren’t a bat. He wished he could fly straight into her arms, let her rub the sore bit of his wing that the boy had pinched, let her hide him until he was safe. But the sight of him would bring fear to those beautiful, enormous eyes. He couldn’t cause that fear.
“I have scissors!”
He smiled upon hearing the happy voice.
“Come Asher, I have to get that off you.”
His smile vanished. “I can’t,” he said.
“Oh please!” she said. “You can’t leave it on.”
“But why? I’ll only touch your leg.”
“I know, but you can’t see me.”
“What if I closed my eyes?”
Asher looked down at her. “Angelea! Your face is bruised!”
The girl started, moved as if to look up, but stopped herself. “That really isn’t fair,” she said.
“Are you all right? What happened?”
“Mrs. Connor didn’t like how much breakfast I ate; neither did her spoon.”
“Did it hurt much?”
A flame rose to her cheeks. “You’re very rude, Asher.” she said. “All I want is to see who I’m talking to and you won’t let me. Yet you’re perfectly comfortable staring at me and asking rude questions.”
Asher felt horrible. “Forgive me--”
“Why do I even care? You’re just a scaredy baby who got stuck in the attic.”
“Please forgive me--”
“And besides which I’ll come one day and you’ll be gone.”
“Forgive me! Angelea I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”
“Are you crying again? All you do is cry. Cry, cry, cry! I never cry.”
Asher did sit crying; for a moment he had a friend, and now he’d lost her.
“Oh no,” the girl whispered. “No, no: Asher? Answer me!”
“I’m so sorry--”
“Don’t be!” The girl sounded desperate. “You must forgive me, you must!”
“I’ll try not to cry.”
“You can cry. You cry because you’re good and don’t understand why you’ve been hurt. Forgive me for hurting you!”
“You didn’t hurt me.”
“I did. I said cruel things to you. Honestly I didn’t mean them! I couldn’t bear it if you left!”
“I won’t leave. You’re the only friend I’ve ever had.”
“I won’t ask to look at you anymore. Though I wish you’d trust me.” She sighed. “Of course, how can you now?”
“Are you cold?” The days had shortened to the brevity of October. Angelea sat cross-legged on the ground. “You’re shivering.”
“You can hear me from down there?”
“The wood is like paper. Besides, you always shiver. The first day we met you shivered.”
“I didn’t used to. A year ago I spent a few hours in the cold and never warmed back up.”
“My eyes are closed: come down and take this jacket.”
“I can’t take your jacket! You need it.”
“You need it more. The Connors know that the agency will inspect them if I’m seen without a jacket, so I’ll get another by tomorrow. Please Asher? My eyes won’t open.”
The bat slipped hesitantly from the loft and toward the girl. He’d never come so close to her. “Promise me you won’t look.”
Carefully he descended, grasping the jacket. For a moment he relished holding to something she also held, but quickly gave up the moment and retreated to the loft. “I have it,” he said.
“Good. I’m sorry it took me so long to get it up here: this is the first day they let me wear it.”
“Why Angelea? It’s freezing.”
“Well, supposedly I’m sent up here for punishment, so I should be as uncomfortable as possible. I don’t get sick easily, but now it’s cold enough that I probably would get sick without a jacket. And if I get sick, the agency inspects.”
Asher had wrapped himself in the blue corduroy, and now lay buried in it with heavy eyes. “Thank you,” he said. “I’m so much warmer.”
“Extra warm, because you were just wearing it.”
“I’m so glad.”
“It’s perfect…almost like you’re hugging me.”
After a silent moment, Angelea spoke. “I can really hug you, if you want.”
The only response was Asher’s gentle breathing.
“Asher? Asher, are you asleep?”
Breathe in, breathe out. He felt more comfortable and more loved than he ever had before.
“I wish I were as strong as you,” Asher said. Angelea had just come up from the vicious yelling of the Connors. Today she appeared intact, but sometimes she’d have scratches or bruises or cuts. Since school had started these ‘sometimes’ were extremely rare; Asher guessed that fear of the agency had something to do with that.
“No you don’t.”
“I think I do. You never cry about anything; I cry about everything.”
“I used to cry, but just can’t anymore. I can’t even make myself cry.” She sat quietly a minute or two. “I guess I’m just too used to things to cry.” She snickered. “Yeah, I’ve had a hard life.”
“I’m sorry, Angelea.”
“Why are you sorry? You’re the first good thing I’ve had. Really had. You’re innocent. I can’t cry because I’m not innocent.”
“Of course you’re innocent. You’re just a little girl.”
“I’m a bad little girl. If I were good someone would want me. No one wants me.”
“What do you mean?”
“My mom didn’t want me. My dad did, but who knows where he is now. I’ve lived with so many different people, and none of them have kept me. I’m a bad little girl.”
“You’re not bad.”
“You’re not. If you were bad you wouldn’t be so kind to me.” Asher looked down at his beautiful friend. She had been twisting a splinter of wood around her fingers, but now held still.
“It’s strange, Asher,” she said at last. “I can’t figure out why I’m not innocent. When I talk to you, I almost feel like I am. But then I remember everything, and know I mustn’t be.”
“Will you answer a question for me?” Angelea asked.
“Why don’t you want me to see you?”
Asher felt a horrible sinking in his stomach. “If you saw me you wouldn’t want to be my friend.”
“Yes I would.”
“But you wouldn’t be able to.”
“You’d be afraid of me.”
“Afraid of you? I wouldn’t!”
“People, when they see me, become either cruel or afraid. The boy who tied this string on me was cruel. You’re not; you’re the kindest person in the world. You would be afraid of me.”
Angelea’s cheeks flamed bright, angry red. “So it’s that boy who hurt you! I knew someone must have.” Her face softened. “You’re right that I’d never be cruel to you. I’d make you so warm and so comfortable you’d fall asleep.”
Asher very nearly flew down to her that instant. “I can’t frighten you.”
“You wouldn’t frighten me, Asher, I promise.” Her usually stoic, strong voice nearly wavered with emotion. “If you looked like Erik I would still love you.”
“There’s a story about him. He was a man with a face like a skull. People were so terrified of him that he had to live underground.”
“That’s a tragic story.”
“A girl he captures loves him in the end, so he lets her go and dies happy. One of the families I stayed with had lots of books, so I read lots of books.” She turned her face up and Asher flinched back. “I will always love you, even if you are a thousand times more horrifying than Erik.”
He almost spoke, but the hatch opened, and Angelea left him.
But she returned that night. Very late that night--long, long after dark on a frigid November night.
“Asher? Are you awake?”
“Yes.” He’d actually become accustomed to sleeping in the dark rather than the day, but had been restless this night. “But you’re never up this late.”
“I couldn’t sleep. The Connors don’t know I’m up here.”
He looked down to see her bathed in dim yellow. “What’s the matter? You’re anxious.”
“I want you to promise me something.” Asher surely saw glittering tears in her eyes. Tears in the eyes of someone who couldn’t cry.
“What is it?”
“You’ll say ‘no,’ won’t you?”
“I don’t think so. What is it?”
The dark-haired angel took a breath. “Before I’m sent somewhere else, can I see you?”
“Sent somewhere else?”
“Yes, that’s what it means to be a foster kid. The agency moves me from house to house, family to family, because I have no parents or relatives to take care of me. I don’t know when, but eventually I’ll be sent somewhere else.”
“Anywhere. I don’t know. But when I go, if you don’t come with me, can I see you?”
Asher tried to reply, but hadn’t the chance. Angelea wept. Wept with great, beautiful tears.
“I want you to come with me. You’re my only friend. I know you’re small, and my suitcase is big,” she cried into her sleeve.
“I’d let no one touch the suitcase but me. I’d make it a lovely little bed for you, and move it so carefully…and I know you’re still a little afraid of me, and that’s okay, but I do think letting me see you and hug you and kiss you would make you not afraid anymore.”
His body fought to stay on the loft. His heart already rested in the girl’s arms.
“If you wanted to come, but not for me see you, that would be fine too, because I can do a lot with my eyes closed. But, but if you couldn’t come with me, may I see you? I wouldn’t be afraid. I couldn’t be afraid. I want to, to remember you; to remember you because you’re my only friend, and will always be my best friend even if I never meet you again.” She wept with passion eight times that of her years, on her knees and covering her face.
“You’re my only and best friend too, Angelea.”
“Will you come with me?” She flung her face up, unable to see Asher by her weak flashlight. “Maybe that’s selfish, but I can’t help wanting. I don’t think I can handle losing you!”
Asher sat silent, also crying. He loved the girl, loved her so much, ad therefore what he must do terrified him. “Angelea?” he asked, shaking. “Do you want to see me?”
Hope flickered in the sad eyes. “I do.”
He cried harder. “You’ll hate me!”
“I won’t. I promise Asher, I won’t.”
“Will you close your eyes while I come down?”
The tiny bat crept over the thin wood and drifted down before the girl. She was so beautiful. Truly beautiful. He was just about to speak, but her arms opened--
“I’m sorry.” She had taken him in an embrace. “I couldn’t wait. I’ve wanted to hug you so long.”
“Please, please I’m frightened!”
“I know. You’re tense and trembling. I won’t hurt you. Try to relax. Don’t be afraid.”
Asher was intensely afraid, but in his fear clung to the girl’s pajamas. He lay right on her heartbeat, and as his initial terror faded the living rhythm soothed him. Greatly soothed him. And as his muscles calmed he felt just how loving her hands were: how they erased the cruel boy’s every touch by simply touching over them.
“Angelea? That boy…”
“The evil one?”
“Yes. He trapped me in his hand, and squeezed until I fainted.”
The girl tightened her embrace, drawing her hand tenderly over him, back and forth, back and forth. He sighed.
“That is good. Thank you. The boy, he pinched part of my wing, and it hurt awfully, and sometimes I wake up from a dream, hurting just as if he were still there.”
“Where on your wing?”
He held up his right wing. “Just under the top.”
The girl cupped the spot in her hand, kissed it, and pressed it to her neck, massaging it and the rest of him until he almost fell asleep.
But he woke with a start. “Angelea?”
“Will you hug me a little longer?”
“As long as you like.”
“Don’t open your eyes just yet.”
There was a pause. “All right. I won’t.”
He lay quietly some minutes, then once more began to cry.
“Let me go now.”
“You’ll hide again.”
“You can’t see me!”
“You’ll be afraid, and then you’ll never hug me again!”
“I’ll hug you every moment. Asher, I’ve already seen you.”
The little bat shriveled. “What do you mean?”
“I opened my eyes a long time ago. I didn’t know I still wasn’t supposed to.”
He tightened his grip on her.
“I’m not a bit afraid of you, Asher. You’re a bat. I like bats.” She kissed the top of his head. “Now I love bats.”
“But the girls at the other house, they saw me and screamed, and crouched on the floor, and screamed and screamed--”
Angelea kissed his mouth to stop his speaking. For the first time he looked into her deep, sad, adoring brown eyes; then relaxed in her arms. The girl’s tears dripped on his head, and she thanked him.
“Why?” he asked.
“You trust me. No one has ever trusted me.”
The girl jumped to attention, unbound her arms from Asher, and held him toward the loft. “Fly up!” she begged. “Fly up, Asher!”
He didn’t. “You’re scared.”
“Please! Fly up; they mustn’t know you’re here! Please! Please!”
Only because she begged did he obey. The Connors burst in before he had hidden, but they didn’t see him, and as he turned to look he saw genuine fear on the face of his brave friend. An invincible rage bubbled up inside him, and he swooped toward Mr. Connor.
The man sprung back, waving his hands before him. Asher screeched shriller and flapped harder than a whole colony of bats. Mrs. Connor screamed, trying to aid her husband, but a few good beats of Asher’s wings near her eyes and she scurried for cover. Mr. Connor backed further and further away, his long arms flailing, until he tumbled through the hatch and thudded on the floor.
Asher turned to Angelea. The girl nodded: they rushed down the ladder, through the house, and out into icy darkness.
They ran and ran and ran: through the snow, through the wind. Asher’s wings stiffened with cold, but he kept flying. He was running again, but not alone this time. Not alone.
He turned around and bolted to the girl, who clutched him in her arms.
“You’re too fast--I’m going to lose you!”
“That’s impossible, because I won’t lose you.”
“Asher, Asher you’re freezing.”
“So are you.”
“But your wings are so thin, and feel like they’ll break.”
“They’re fine.” The girl held him, quivering.
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“I don’t know. You need to get somewhere warm.”
“I’m scared, Asher.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“I want to go home.”
“Back to the Connors’?”
“No. No, that’s just it. I have no home. But I want to go there; more than anything in the world, I just want to go home!”
Asher nestled against her neck.
“I want a family that’s mine, Asher. It doesn’t matter how they’re mine--I only want to be theirs forever. I want a family who’ll never let me go. I’ve had some wonderful families, but when it’s time for me to move, they give me a hug and send me off to who knows where. I can’t let myself love that kind of family.”
“I won’t let you go, Angelea.”
The girl kissed him for the countless time. “I won’t let you go, either.” She held him just a little more securely. “Not even from my arms right now. You’re too cold.”
“I’m not cold anymore, and will keep warm a while. Let me look for somewhere to go.”
The girl shook her head. Asher was about to argue, but she hushed him.
“Someone’s coming,” she whispered.
“Let me out; I’ll send him away.”
“I can’t. Asher I’m scared. I’m scared.”
Now he heard footsteps crunching the snow. Angelea didn’t move. Just stood there shaking.
“Little girl?” The footsteps neared, then stopped. A deep voice spoke. “Little girl? What are you doing out here?”
Angelea said nothing.
“Come in from the snow,” the man coaxed. “My wife couldn’t sleep, and saw you run by some minutes ago; our house is very close.” Still the girl kept silent, until the man reached out and touched her shoulder.
“Do you have scissors?” she asked, looking straight into the bearded face.
“Yes. Not big scissors, little ones. Like the kind for sewing.”
“We have those. Come with me and we’ll get them for you. All right?”
Angelea nodded. Asher felt her take a few weary steps forward.
“You need warmth,” the man said. “May I carry you?”
He picked her up and ran.
All at once there was light and heat. The man lay Angelea down; a woman began wrapping her in blankets. She asked for scissors.
“What for, Darling?” the woman asked.
“My friend. He has a string on his leg that hurts him. I have to cut it off.”
Just then Asher realized his situation. “Let me go,” he whispered. “I’ll fly up into the rafters to hide.”
“No,” the girl replied.
“Please Angelea: if they’re not afraid they’ll hurt me.”
“I’m not afraid, and I don’t hurt you.”
“You’re the exception--”
“Are you talking to your friend, Sweetheart?” the woman asked.
“Yes: Asher. He’s afraid to come out. You won’t hurt him?”
“You won’t be afraid of him?”
“Angelea,” Asher pleaded, his voice breaking. “Don’t do this. Please don’t do this. Let me get away.”
“He’s terrified,” the girl said. “Don’t touch him. Only let me touch him. I need the scissors.”
“No, no, no--”
She exposed him. He couldn’t even open his eyes for fear of what he might see, or loosen his fingers for fear of what might snatch him.
“That string looks bad,” the woman said, handing Angelea the scissors. The girl lightly took his leg and clipped the twine.
“There,” the girl said. “Poor Asher! It’s been on so long you’re all cut under it.”
“He’ll heal quickly. Are you two hungry?”
“No. Just tired.”
“Come up to bed, then. Peter’s prepared a room for you.”
Asher would have found comfort impossible that night, but Angelea’s rubbing hand and quiet voice eventually eased him into dreamless sleep. He was, however, constantly aware of the stinging circle on his leg. But, after some time, the sting changed: something cool passed over it. He hoped the cool something would pass again, because it relieved him immensely. It did, and also straightened his whole leg out. Now something else, still cool, but rather wet, smoothed around the ring and remained. He sighed at that, because the sting stopped and didn’t return; he sighed again when clean pressure wrapped and held the relief in.
Suddenly his eyes flung open, and he scrambled away from what had his leg. It was the woman. She looked at him with something like disappointment.
“You understand me,” she said.
Asher, panting and cringing behind Angelea’s shoulder, nodded.
“You can speak.”
He nodded again.
“I didn’t mean to frighten you. That cut looks painful; may I finish bandaging it?”
Asher glanced at his leg. Sure enough it was half-bandaged. He looked at the woman.
“It’s all right. Come here.”
He trembled once throughout, then obeyed. The woman bound off the dressing. He took a deep breath, and thanked her.
She smiled. “Of course. I should’ve helped that sooner, but you didn’t seem able to handle anything.”
“Don’t be. Someone’s been hard on you and on your friend. What is her name?”
“She seems like a sweet girl.”
“What are you running from?”
“Who are they?”
“The people Angelea was staying with. She moves a lot, and always lives with different people.”
The woman nodded with understanding. “They’re hard on her?”
“We’ll see what we can do. Can you sleep?”
“I think so.”
“Goodnight, then. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Angelea’s stupor wore off by morning, so it was with timid footsteps and a tense hold on her bat that she crept downstairs. The woman, whose name was Kathleen, served her and Asher maple-laced cereal which soothed the girl so deeply that she burst into tears half-way through it. When Kathleen tried to comfort her she only wept harder.
“When will the agency come?” she finally asked.
“Peter spoke with them already. Your things are coming from your old house.”
“You didn’t tell them about Asher, did you?”
“Good; don’t. They’d say he was bad for me and send him off to some horrid cave far away.” She held tighter to Asher. “They’d kill him, if they did that. He gets so cold.”
“No one will take him from you. He won’t allow it, will you, Asher?”
The little bat looked at Angelea. “No, I won’t,” he said. The girl was so pale.
“Thank you for bandaging his leg,” she said. “It won’t hurt him anymore.”
Kathleen drew her finger over Asher’s head. He actually lingered on the verge of falling back asleep: Angelea massaged his back so tenderly he couldn’t keep his eyes open.
“Would you believe,” she continued, “that yesterday he was afraid of me?”
Asher breathed softly as the girl tended him.
“But he’s not a bit afraid now. He just needed someone to be good to him; now he’s all better.”
Asher glanced up to see Kathleen staring thoughtfully at nothing at all, stroking Angelea’s long, dark hair.
“What’s the matter, Angelea?”
The girl wiped her eyes on the sleeve of her pajamas, and rearranged the bed covers to better see her friend. “I’m sorry for waking you.”
“You shouldn’t be; I wish you’d voluntarily wake me.”
She lay her mouth to his ear. “Do you know what Peter called me tonight?”
“‘Little Girl.’ He said, ‘Good night, Little Girl. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Why does that make you sad?”
“Because I’m not his little girl.” She started crying again. “And I want to be. I want to be!”
“Maybe you will.”
“Don’t say that, Asher! I can’t think that way.”
“If I think that way leaving will break my heart.” She steadied herself. “I thought it already was broken. But it doesn’t feel that way anymore. It feels thin, and chipped, and fragile; but not yet broken.” She kept quiet a few minutes, then wept inconsolably, eventually stammering her resolution. “I have to be bad,” she said. “I have to make them hate me. Because if they hate me I won’t love them. I can’t love them, Asher, I just can’t. I mustn’t cry anymore.”
She didn’t sleep that night, and in the morning she greeted Peter and Kathleen coldly. This obviously hurt the couple, but Angelea didn’t seem to care. Asher knew she again couldn’t cry .
She left for school with hardly a goodbye. Except to Asher. She kissed the top of his head, though strangely. As if half of her tried to turn back into the real Angelea and fling her arms around him and never let go, while the other half scorned the little kiss because it knew just how deadly love is. Watching her from the window Asher felt more helpless than he ever had.
“She’s afraid,” Kathleen said.
“Yes,” replied Asher.
“We’re trying. These things move so slowly, and only God can answer our prayers.”
She fought with all her might. Fought Kathleen’s caring gestures. Fought Peter’s fatherly words. Became thinner, and lost the dark rose from her beautiful cheeks, and shivered under her warm comforter. Fought every good thing besides Asher. He was her weakness. She needed that weakness.
One evening she sat holding him near the fire. She hated that he was always cold. Now she settled him deep in her lap, affectionately rubbing his wings. He worried about her constantly, but in spite of his overwhelming anxiety she could put him to sleep. Not only because she warmed him, although she certainly did: mere seconds in her arms and he forgot what cold felt like. But being in her arms also assured him: he was incredibly safe and incredibly loved.
The girl started and turned toward Peter’s deep voice. “What?”
“May I sit by you?”
She shrugged, but Asher felt her whole body go rigid. Peter settled himself cross-legged on the floor.
“How was school today?” he asked, after a few silent minutes.
“What did you learn about?”
“What kind of stuff?”
Angelea didn’t respond.
Peter stared into the fire a few moments. “Has Asher warmed up?”
She tightened her grip, just slightly, on the little bat. “Yes, now he has.”
“I never knew bats were so susceptible to cold.”
“Asher stayed out in the cold too long once. He never warmed up.”
“Hmm. I wonder if Kathleen could make a jacket to fit him.”
Angelea looked straight at the man, then burst into a smile. “I’m sure she could! Then Asher wouldn’t be cold all the time.”
“We should ask her.”
Angelea scrambled to her feet , running into the kitchen where Kathleen washed dinner dishes. “Kathleen!” she said, sliding to a stop on the tile floor. “Could you make a jacket to fit Asher?”
At this fourth mention of his name, and after Angelea’s running, Asher opened his eyes. He’d only been half awake before.
“I’m sure I could,” Kathleen said.
“Well, if I measure him tonight, I can buy fabric and start work tomorrow.”
Angelea ran from the kitchen to where Kathleen kept her sewing box, pulled out the long blue measuring tape, and ran back. “Here,” she said, holding the sleepy eyed bat forward.
Kathleen laughed, took Asher softly in her hands, and moved to the sofa. “Are you awake, Asher?” she asked.
“Angelea wants me to make a jacket for you. Would you like that?”
Asher turned to the girl. She beamed with whole gladness, her dark eyes almost otherworldly in their height of joy. But a strange thing happened. Peter lay his hand to her shoulder, and she lifted her face up to his, her whole person enthralled by delight. Then, all at once, a blackness obscured her. As if she had opened a door; a beautiful, golden door; only to watch it dissolve in her hand.
She looked at the man, then at the woman, then at Asher, and burst into tears. Not just tears. Convulsions. Tears which collapsed her to the floor and stole her breath and utterly overwhelmed her.
Peter and Kathleen rushed to comfort her, but she flailed her arms at them. She fought Asher also until she knew him, whence she clutched him as securely as she could. He couldn’t see, but by the way Angelea jolted and squirmed and flipped halfway around he knew that Peter picked her up. Moments later she kept still, not because she wanted to or even could if she wanted to, but because Peter embraced her so closely. She screamed for him to let go, but he only held her and spoke quietly until, after what seemed forever, she crumbled into ordinary tears.
“There, Little Girl,” Peter said, as Kathleen lay a cool wet cloth to Angelea’s head.
“Let me go,” she replied, weakly.
“No Sweetheart. Try to relax.”
Asher nuzzled his cheek to her neck, all he could do while immovably bound.
“Don’t take Asher,” the girl said, choking. “Please let him stay with me.”
“Take Asher?” Kathleen asked. “Of course we wouldn’t. Where would we take him?”
“You might keep him, when I go away. He’s so good you must want him.”
“We do want him.”
Angelea wrenched herself with all her strength, but Peter restrained her.
“You can’t have him! He’s my only friend!”
“He said he’d never lose me!”
“I can’t lose him! I can’t! I can’t!”
“You won’t lose me,” Asher whispered. “I promise. I’m never going to leave you.” His voice managed to calm her, and she lay still.
“Angelea,” Peter said, Kathleen dabbing the damp cloth on the girl’s face and neck. “Will you let us speak to you?”
“Yes,” she said.
He kissed the girl’s forehead.
“Don’t. Don’t kiss me.”
“Why not? Why are you so shy of us?”
“I don’t love you. I only love Asher.”
Kathleen stroked her fingers through the girl’s hair. “Could you ever love us?” she asked.
“Why would I?”
“Because we love you. Very, very much.”
Angelea shook her head free of the woman’s kind touch. “No you don’t.”
“How can you? How can you say you love me one day, and send me off the next?”
“It is possible.”
“No it’s not! I wish I were still at the Conner’s. At least they didn’t torture me.”
Asher felt Peter go momentarily limp, then retake his hold on the girl and start quivering.
“Because that’s what this is,” Angelea continued, the man’s tears nurturing her own. “Saying you love me, and making me feel loved, so that leaving will shred the tiny bit of my heart that hasn’t been shredded already.” She broke into hysterical weeping. “Look how bad I am! Asher’s crying. I always make Asher cry.”
“He’s crying because you’re hurting so much,” Kathleen said. “It’s why we all are.” She sat by Peter on the couch, where she and he rearranged the girl into both their laps. “Now Angelea, we do want you to listen to us.”
“Do you promise? You have to hear all of what we say.”
“Good. Firstly, it is entirely possible for people to love someone they must let go.”
Angelea pressed her wet eyes to Asher’s head.
“But,” Peter said, “that is not what we will do.”
The girl caught her breath and froze: turning her face up, but holding Asher in a terror-stricken grip.
“We were approved while you were at school today,” Kathleen said. “We didn’t tell you we were trying, because so often the agency refuses, and we couldn’t put you through that.”
“But they did approve,” Peter said. “In a few months we will go to court, and then you will be ours.”
Angelea remained stiff and frightened. “Will you let me get up a moment?” They did, and she stood, still clutching Asher to steady herself. She looked at the man, and the woman; then fell to her knees.
“Leave me!” she cried, when they sprung to raise her. “Leave me here, right here, not long, but I must, I must ask you: are you telling the truth?”
“Please! Don’t lie to me. Tell me now if you’re lying.”
“We’re not,” Kathleen said. “All we’ve told you is true.”
“You’re ours forever,” Peter said, stepping forward and easing the girl into his arms.
“Truly,” Kathleen joined the embrace and relaxed the girl’s head to her shoulder. “I’m your mother, Peter’s your father”
“What about Asher?”
The man laughed. “Asher is our bat.”
Kathleen hid Asher in her coat on court day. Angelea couldn’t have kept herself composed if he weren’t there. She was so nervous, so excited, so utterly overwhelmed.
But it happened. Shortly after entering the courtroom they left it again, Angelea the legal daughter of Peter and Kathleen Sharpe.
It didn’t sink in immediately. The girl walked warily on their way home, depending on her father’s hold of her hand and mother’s arm around her shoulder for assurance. She decided winter was her favorite season, and January her favorite month. She liked the cold, because warmth in her family’s embrace was pure joy. Warmth is so good when you’ve been cold so long.
When they reached the town park Asher moved from Kathleen’s coat to Angelea’s. Just as she wrapped him in her scarf his eye caught something, and he started.
“What is it, Asher?” the girl asked.
“Really, nothing, nothing much. I saw someone I recognized.”
“No one important.”
“That boy.” Asher looked at his friend with surprise. “That boy stomping on the snowdrops. He’s the one who hurt you, isn’t he?”
“Yes. I’m sorry. I’m not scared.”
“That’s all right.” She tugged Peter’s sleeve. “Peter?”
“Yes, Little Girl?”
She whispered into his ear. He clenched his teeth, gently stroked Asher’s head, and approached the boy.
“Young man,” he addressed.
The evil boy looked at him, scowling.
“Why are you crushing the flowers?”
The boy shrugged. “I want to.”
“I just do.”
“Is that why you hurt little creatures?”
“Flowers aren’t creatures.”
The boy’s eyes widened. “Who are you?”
Peter stood over the boy like a giant. Asher never noticed how tall and how strong the man was, how his blue eyes pierced, how his red hair flamed, how his deep voice growled.
The boy shrunk back. “Who are you!”
“You should think the next time you want to hurt something.”
“It was just a bat!”
“My bat. My daughter’s best friend.”
“It was in my house!”
“What do you have a house for, if not to welcome in the lost?”
“You’re lucky.” Peter tensed his fists. “You’re a child. Learn now that every creature has a family. You never know who that family is.”
“So that bat is part of your family?”
“Yes.” Peter stepped forward; the boy scrambled a few paces away. “And you had best think twice before nearing him, or my daughter, or anyone I love.”
“How was I supposed to know it was your bat?”
Peter smiled coldly. “I guess you had best stop harming small creatures.” He turned and walked away, but had hardly gotten halfway back when Angelea leapt into his arms.
“Thank you, Peter,” she said, kissing his cheek. She looked timidly at him a moment, then swallowed. “May I,” she began, “may I call you Daddy? I’ve always wanted to call someone that.”
The man flushed with fullest happiness. “I hope you will, Little Girl.”
Peter opened one of his arms to include Kathleen in their embrace. Angelea looked at each of them: her mother, her father. Then she coaxed Asher out from the overlap of her coat and settled him beside her neck. Surrounded by love, by love she would never lose; she closed her eyes and thanked her little bat.
Every time I talk to Corey he asks me if I've written anything new on my blog. So, I'm trying. I've been falling asleep early lately (ten o'clock!) on top of CJ or my writing binder. Thus, no blog posts.
Do you know what time it is? Eight fifty-five! I know! So early! Although we set the clocks back last night, so it feels like nine fifty-five.
Remember my excitement over Cuesta? Blech. I have two really good teachers: Frank Ha (sociology) and Victor Krulikowski (political science). My English teacher is annoying, which is of course hard for me to deal with because I'm blessed with an English-teacher mother. I got an eighty-six on the paper I just turned in. An eighty-six! Not that eighty-six is a bad grade, but writing is my thing! It's the one thing I can do! Every time I raise my hand in that class I feel like an idiot. Arg! Maybe I just need some humbling, but it's NOT FUN. The grade on my paper bugged me because I think he just didn't get what I was writing about. That sounds lame. I mean that I was arguing learning for the sake of learning (one of my favorite topics), and therefore disputing the pragmatic form of education that is so widely adopted, but he's all for pragmatic education. At one point I noted that classes on western civilization are now frequently replaced with classes on world civilization. That's a problem. The events of western civilization cannot be covered in a semester, much less the events of world civilization. In response to this, my teacher explained that the choice was made by educators to emphasize breadth over depth in this aspect of education. Thank you? Yes, you have just proved my point.
I don't feel like complaining about my environmental biology teacher. That is for another post.
I have done quite a bit of fiction writing since last posting: a children's short fiction entitled Weary Angel. Here's the inspiration/leading up to/etc:
Eventually I would write a story about a bat, because I absolutely love them. This stems from "the bat lady" coming to my preschool with a cat carrier full of the cutest little winged kittens you ever saw. Instant love. Later on the PBS cartoon Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat (based on the book by Amy Tan) became one of my favorite programs, primarily because of Fu-Fu the bat. One of my favorite picture books was Stellaluna. The reality that many people ardently dislike bats probably had some influence on my innate root-for-the-underdog tendency. Anyway, bats are amazing.
The first idea of my bat story popped up while I watched the twenty-fifth anniversary Phantom of the Opera show. Creature makes friend, but doesn't want friend to see it because it believes friend will be afraid of it. Perfect creature? Bat. So that lingered in my head a few months. Then I go to camp as a counselor and meet a girl named Kaelana. As we rifle through stickers with which to decorate our name tags I find that I have two bat stickers left. "I'll take one of these," I say. "I love bats." Suddenly Kaelana's already enormous brown eyes swell up and she says, "You do? So do I! No one likes bats!" Thus a friendship is born. Kaelana talks to me constantly about bats. What she says the most often is, "bats are so innocent. People don't like them, but if you look at them, they're just so innocent." I asked her if there were a boy's name she particularly liked: she said she liked Biblical names, but other than that she had little preference. My bat story still had little going for it than an idea, but I obviously know who it is dedicated to. A few weeks later, when I counsel again, I meet a girl named Angenae. I still don't know how to spell her name, and I can't find out how, but I told her that she had a beautiful name and that I would eventually have to steal it.
On our family vacation to Oregon I wrote the following introduction. It was a good way to get me started, but I don't know if I'll keep it. Here it is, for posterity's sake if I kill it.
"No one likes bats. Well, I guess I can’t say ‘no one,’ because I like bats, and have a good friend who likes bats. Not many people like bats.
Chances are that you don’t like bats. You probably think they’re nasty little creatures with skeletal faces and shrill voices; wide, bony wings and dripping fangs. You think bats only show up in frightening places: creepy houses, damp caves. You think they must be scary, because they only come out at night. Nice things come out in the day.
However, I must tell you, this is not so. At least I’ve never met a scary bat. Granted I’ve met only a few, but they’re all dear friends. One, Asher, has allowed me to write out his story for you. Which is quite an honor because he’s terribly shy; it took _______ months of coaxing before he managed to tell me!
Gracious, I ’m getting so ahead of myself! Enough of my chatter--you must be fairly desperate to hear the story now. Just one warning: if you are determined to dislike bats forever, you will want to close this book. You will love them once I am through."
After I came home I let my story go a while. Then I remembered it, and over a few days the idea expanded until I could write it down. My mum helped me straighten a few story details out (namely my girl character's family situation), and then it wrote itself over a week. The name 'Angenae' worked for my character, but I couldn't find how to spell it. While looking (again, with my mum), we came across the name 'Angelea,' which means "weary angel." This was so perfect I had to use it for the name and the title!
Wow...I'm going to have to put my query letter and remaining schpeal up later. I can't keep my eyes open. I wonder if the sleeping dog in my lap has anything to do with that. Goodnight!
I really need to do this more regularly.
Once again, as I glance at the clock, I see that it is a quarter to one in the morning. I'm just starting to type. Yeah.
Cuesta starts on the twentieth! I'm really excited, which is great because I haven't gotten too excited over school in way too many years. I have looked forward to future schooling (i.e. SPU), but not to what I'm actually doing. So this is good! ("This is good, isn't it?" --Helen 'Elasti-girl' Par in The Incredibles.)
I officially love being a camp counselor. Considering that I hated being a camper, I find this interesting. Hopefully I'm the sort of counselor who would have made me like camp. Altogether I counseled twenty-one girls, five of whom I shared with another counselor. I wonder why I disliked being a camper. The boy-girl separation really bugged (and still bugs) me. Not the separate sleeping quarters, but that I never got to see the boys. At Hume I didn't actually speak to Maurice V, one of my closest friends, until day four of camp. My most outstanding memory of Life Camp was Peter getting extremely homesick. He would only sleep over at Maurice's house; anywhere else he'd call halfway through the night. You're probably wondering why my parents, knowing this, sent him for a week of camp. I wondered why a number of my girls had never before stayed from home prior to being shipped off a good distance from home to live, supposedly tearlessly, with people they'd never met in a place they'd never been for four or five days. But Peter wanted to go. Not only was I going, but Sean and Mary M. were going. He almost wasn't placed in Sean's cabin, but thankfully that worked out. The first night he couldn't sleep at all. He told me the next morning he wanted to go home. Of course I hardly saw him all day. That night I remember the bell ringing like a death knoll and Peter grabbing onto me and screaming. He had a good counselor, who took him jogging around the field a while, sending me off after a lap or two, so he stopped crying. Peter was eventually fine. But I never quite forgave the camp for not just letting Peter come to my cabin to sleep. I mean, I and the rest of my cabin were fourteen. Peter was ten. I guess that could possibly encite other kids to all merge into other cabins. Which would be a nightmare. But I can't help myself. When I had a homesick girl I just had her climb into my bunk; the first week I had two with me all five days! But people get so weird. It's tragic because all these fears of the extremely unlikely make opportunities for good impossible to take. So my brother lay terrified in his bed all night long while his sister resided a short walk away. Besides all that, my counselor was terribly unsympathetic. I also remember Anna K. going without dinner because she didn't participate in the field games. Granted she was told of this punishment when she still had a chance to avoid it, but come on. That's good, deprive the girl dinner. Real smooth. Aren't we there to be a parent in one way and a buddy in the other? Obviously I had to discipline the girls sometimes: I took away flashlights, scolded, told anyone who reached for the serving plate while others said grace that she had to get her food last. But I tried to understand where they were comng from. To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of running around in the heat either. Saying 'please' works much better than threatening. Many kids act out i n response to threats. We should be parents when the kids are homesick or hurt or upset. We shouldn't blow off a girl whose crying because her brother just had to be pulled off her. Of course I am too protective of Peter: Mrs. Greenaway the yard duty always told me so!
Now to a topic that won't make me all mad and passionate (yes, I am thinking of Mrs. Reed's words to Jane Eyre): Orson! I wanted to make a doll. I think the heat has made me reactionary. I'm sewing and knitting and baking. Anyway, I browsed through a Sturbridge catalogue and looked at their Halloween stuff. They had a little vampire doll named Norbert who was almost cute. Here he is:
But not quite. So I set out to make my own little vampire. He's, of course, Waldorf style. He has green eyes, a shy-looking black smile, no fangs, short black spiky hair with a widow's peak (my mum's suggestion: so cute), a roundish body with rice in his behind to make him sitable, arms that bend at the shoulder, and legs that bend where they meet his body. He's passed the child test, which includes carrying and throwing him by his head and all his limbs, with flying colors. His clothes are not made, but the fabric is orange, black, and a black pattern. I've also a spider-clad ribbon I plan to embellish him with. His name comes from the cartoon movies (and books, but I actually didn't know about them) Scary Godmother. I watched this in the fourth grade. I really liked the teen vampire named Orson. For some reason he reminds me of Corey: the really handsome young man with the green scarf in Coffee House! If Corey were thirteen and a vampire, he'd be Orson. My Orson looks nothing like his namesake.
The name is perfect, though! I may have to make my Orson some glasses. They're just so cute!
It is two ten now. Guess what I've got going on tomorrow? Bru! We do go there all the time! At least three times a week! Night!
So it has been a ridiculously long time since I blogged. The following mini-essay should explain a bit why. Stage of Life happened to be having a contest I actually felt able to write for: a song that has been very important to me during a period in my life. The contest is why this is so short; I used 498 words out of a possible 500!
In the Midst
It is more customary to isolate and analyze a specific period in one’s life after the period has passed. But there is something to say for what one thinks and feels during the period. We cannot misjudge our feelings in the midst of feeling them.
“But I won’t rot, I won’t rot. Not this mind and not this heart, I won’t rot.” This line, from Mumford and Sons’ “After the Storm” (from the album Sigh no More) is my prayer for my father. He won’t rot. Not his mind, not his heart. He cannot rot.
A therapist, after learning of my father’s duel diagnoses of mental illnesses, told my mother that a brain tumor has a better prognosis. He would be better cold on his deathbed than going through life blinded and burned.
“And I will die alone, and be left there. Well I guess I’ll just go home, or God knows where. Because death is just so full, and man so small. I’m scared of what’s behind, and what’s before.”
What’s behind is twenty years. Twenty years of my father and mother more in love with each other than seems possible outside of fiction. Twenty years of my father writing love songs far past the realm of love songs. Twenty years of my mother running outside to greet him and twenty years of him carrying her back.
But twenty years of turmoil. Twenty years of my father recoiling from his wife’s affections. Twenty years of not knowing if a word will incite laughter or wrath or ice. Twenty years of begging God that this is the last time: that tonight Daddy will come home.
Before is a double diagnosis: bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. This helps. At least it makes sense. But it will never go away. Medicine and therapy can help, but the disorders will always be there.
No one understands. My mother should be her own woman. She doesn’t have to take this. They say they understand, but they don’t. They hate seeing her hurt. So do I. Fervently, fervently I hate it.
But she sees my father. She sees the strong arm beyond the crippled stub. She sees the deep, rich eye beneath the cloudy haze. “I saw exactly what was true, but oh no more. That’s why I hold. That’s why I hold with all I have. That’s why I hold.”
Not his mind. Not his heart. “And I look up. On my knees and out of luck, I look up.” Please bring him home. Please make us his home. Death is empty. Death is nothing. And though we are small You, Dear God, are great. And that’s why we hold. That’s why we hold with all we have.
“But there will come a time you’ll see, with no more tears. And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears. Get over your hill and see, what you’ll find there. With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.”
So sorry for not posting. After suffering through this example of my children's writing, you'll probably be glad for another break.
Any good story needs a good setting, and a good setting is a very specific thing. A good setting is one with purple-tiered mountains and black-walled caverns; sunrises of rosy grey and sunsets of fire-licked orange; forests of most striking green and seas of most intense blue. Of course the absolute best of stories is set in the absolute best of places -- that place where the air glows with fairy wings, and earth flowers to elfin kisses, and hidden places shimmer by virtue of dwarfish hands. Oh to look up, and see a dragon embrace the clouds! It is to seek, for only eager fingers can reach out and take this beautiful, magnificent world.
But what if one cannot see the purple, or the orange, or the blue? What if for one the air does not glow, and earth does not flower, and hidden places do not shimmer? No fairy, elf, or dwarf does he see. Yet above the dragon still flies. If not a soul sees or hears or feels him, he flies just the same. Such is our story: a story of childish mystery and delight and splendor, but a story where color and form mean naught. But have no fear. The mountains tower, and the caverns wind. The fairy sings, and the elf dances.
And of course the dragon flies. Heaven, how he flies.
So our story begins. From frozen peaks the snow glides downward, and downward, and downward, melting into icy water, which flows into a stream. This stream flows through a cave. A jagged, rocky, and in all ways inhospitable cave. Well, at least it seems. Some have reported a strange scent and a strange warmth, rising from cracks in the floor. After emerging from the cave the stream meets a sea. This sea plunges unfathomably, and chills cruelly. Its wind beats like a lash, and few leave it. On the other side of this sea the stream thrusts back out on its own, as pure and clean as ever, into a rich forest. What can be trusted in a forest? Its wanderers may twist about in search of escape a thousand years. But those whose home is not home, who yearn for relief from what most cling to with desperation, the forest soothes and helps. At the center of this forest is a town.
The town coughs and wheezes with its own stench. Its people breath deeply of this stench, and their lungs relish it, and they push and shove to save more foulness for themselves. Only a few despise the air, and these few are hated. The wicked people easily spot them, because they cannot thrive in the town. Even before birth they are damaged, in some way, because their good spirits need more than what can be supplied in wombs of evil. Something must die, for a good spirit to live. Limbs must shrivel, or ears deaden, or eyes go black.
And so begins our story.
Like my new profile picture? Matty took it!
I'll post some pictures, and if I think of anything to say you can be sure I'll say it!
On my second ever class with Mr. Wilson, he told us that his birthday was the following week. I said I would make him a cake. When I brought it in he seemed entirely surprised. I said, "I promised to make it!" He replied, "I didn't think you actually would; I don't trust anyone!" If you know Mr. Wilson, you are cracking up right now.
Nana's late breakfast yesterday. Fork-beat two or three eggs with a bit of water, two shakes of salt, one shake of pepper, and about a 1/4 tsp. chili powder. Scramble in a heated and lightly oiled pan. Toast two tortillas on the stove and fill with cooked eggs. Place diced tomato and some hot sauce (I used a packet of Taco Bell hot sauce) in heated pan; cook until softened and heated through. Stuff into tortillas along with sliced avocado. Serve with tortilla chips. I may call it "The Kino," although I can hardly think about that book (Steinbeck's "The Pearl"; sorry, I can't figure out how to italicize within a caption) without feeling rather ill...
"The cherry's abloom in the Northland, the wild, lone cherry tree. The sad, sweet birds, of the Spring-time are singing again to me. They sing of the frozen rivers, piping soft and low, till I think I hear your foosteps dancing, across the snow. Sing! Birds! Sing songs of the Spring-time. Sing high on the cherry tree. Sing of my love in the Northland, as my love once sang to me. Hush! Birds! The cherry in silence, is letting her petals fall, for one whose dancing footsteps, will never come, at all." Beautiful song by Margaret Rose and Armstrong Gibbs entitled "The Cherry Tree."
Sorry you had to suffer through that. I'll try to use my brain more in my next post!
This is John Lennon:
This is Sherlock:
Sorry Mr. Wilson, I'm not seeing much resemblance! But since I'm at it...
This is John:
This is Sherlock smiling:
This is John smiling:
This is Sherlock and John:
This is Matthew:
His build is totally Sherlock, and his coloring is entirely John. Just like Matty to be SO INCREDIBLY COOL!!!!!!!!!!!
The last sentence of my last post was supposed to read, "Also, Matty and I have a coffee date...Night!". But I don't think it came out that way. I did wake up before noon (11:58), and around twelve-thirty Shmoo and I were walking toward downtown Atascadero. Matty was wearing my favorite of his newsie caps (I really don't know what they're called, but 'newsie cap' gets the point across) and using his walking stick. Yep, he has a walking stick. It's handle is a lion made out of German silver (we named him 'Luven,' a spin off the German word for 'lion'), and it has his initials monogramed on it. I know, he really is too cool. He took me to The Bru, which we've now decided is our coffee house. We'll be spending plenty of time there.
So cool bloggers post photographs...so I took some photographs!
Melt some butter in a pan. Add sliced red onions; cook until softened. Add some corn and green peas; cook a while longer. Add a few spoonfulls of sour cream; mix. Add cooked pasta; cook until heated through. Put in a bowl, sprinkle with parmesan, and grind pepper atop it. Matty and I were listening to "Saint-Saens Piano Concertos 1-5 Klavierkonzerte" while I concocted this dish. It came out quite delicious, so I'll call it 'Pasta Camille" after Camille Saint-Saens. As a side note, when Matty first heard a portion of these concertos on the radio, he declared it the most beautiful music he had ever heard. Needless to say, I would highly reccomend it.
This is my good, long-time friend Corey Solberg modeling his two-by-two rib wool scarf. Obviously, a strip of my nasty carpet look good if it were tied about Corey's neck, but we'll just keep that hushed, and say that my scarf is an exquisite example of the sheer mastery of a fantastic knitter. I love going Dickens with my adjectives!
I should study some now. No, it's 12:57 in the afternoon, not the morning! I would never be up at so ridiculous an hour...
A college student who spends (or wastes) her time reading, writing, cooking, baking, knitting, sewing, and playing a rather horrendous violin.
Want to check out my blogging inspiration? Who cares that they're fictional? Check out how fantastic these are!