Monday, September 23, 2013

Journey to Aytifur: After the Mountains

                                          (see here for part 1)

  The sun was just high enough in the sky to make the dew in the grass sparkle like thousands of diamonds in a sea of green. The air was still crisp and cool as it will be in early spring. Though the air in the barn was more musty than crisp and Erdwin had woken too early to see the dew sparkle.

  He sat milking one of the family's huge cows, brooding with each fresh squirt of sweet milk. He brooded about how his bed was at its softest at this hour and how he'd much rather be under the covers. He brooded about how he never got to venture out past the border of their farm; he was sure there was excitement just waiting past the forest's edge or over the crest of the hills. He brooded wondering whether any of Gran's stories were true. Could there really be giants that lived in the mountains? Twin princes in the far off thrones that ruled side by side with twin scepters? Gremples and brownies and clever wolves by turns waging war with each other and allying altogether against forest intruders. Each story, each element was more fantastic than the  last, and yet when she told the tales it was as if she had been to these places and seen these things herself.

  In the midst of all the brooding Erdwin heard a rustling. The cats liked to sneak into the barn to get a bit of cream straight from the teat. Usually the animals all got along well enough, but at this hour the cows, like Erdwin, were not pleased to be awake. He got up from his stool and shuffled his way over to the source of the rustle, doing his best to look menacing.

  "Boots? Florence?", He called out, "Whichever one you are, you had best scram on the count of three. I mean it. Three, two..."

   Before Erdwin had reached "one" he turned the corner to the next stall and saw there was no sign of a cat at all. The straw near the cow moved again, whatever was there was bigger than a stupid cat. He pondered whether he should find his father in case it was a dangerous creature. But the foxes were smart enough not to enter the barn. He took another step towards the shape and heart it emit a moan, then a mumble, "...Paulsen, I'm so lost, why do you always have to cheat when we play hide-n-seek? Illusions aren't fair..."

   Laying in the straw was a girl a few years older than Erdwin with light blue skin. She held a staff limply. Erdwin made sure she had no mortal wounds and sprinted off to fetch his father.


  Angela woke up to find herself in a straw bed in a warm room. There was a spotted cat lying near her feet.

    "Oh, you're awake, are you?"

She turned to find a young man sitting in a chair in the corner of the room reading a tome. She turned to reach for her staff, but found her body unable to obey her well.

  "No. Don't move, you're weak yet. My name is Erdwin, you're on my family's farm, you're safe. Please, relax and rest. I'll be right back, my father told me to find Gran when you awoke."

  The boy dashed out the door, upsetting the cat from the bed in his wake. Angela settled back into the bed and looked around the room. Her staff and pack were set next to the chair Erdwin had been sitting on. It looked as if the pack hadn't been opened. What trusting strangers were these? She raised her hand weakly to lift her hair from her face and noticed her hand. It was blue. Like the sky without clouds. Blue?


When she awoke again there was a weather old woman who looked as if she had seen the world be made and could tell it off if she wanted. Angela noticed this old woman had strange eyes. The pupils were slits, like those of a cat.

   "Ya can call me Gran, m'dear. I take care of the medicine and some odds and ends. Ya have a touch of mountain sickness, though you may have figured that out yourself."

  "The blue color of my skin?"

"Very good. It might fade in time, or again it might not. But I don't take a girl traveling alone with a staff to be one taken with vanity. Though if its any consolation it looks quite striking on ya."

   "I was traveling with another...I think...Some time after Paulsen's cottage..."

The old woman smiled, "You know Paulsen, do ya? I trained him when he was just a wee pup, constantly nipping at my heels, begging for a new scroll to read, or a new spell to learn. I trust he's made all the right mistakes by now.", Gran stopped for a moment lost in her memories, "Can you remember how ya came to be on our farm? What brought you over the mountains? Try telling me what you can, I'll help you fill in the gaps."

   "It was all smooth until like you said, when I got to the mountains...I think..."


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Hitting the Mark- HAIM (The Wire)

  HAIM, rhymes with time, from Los Angeles, California is made up of the three Haim sisters - Este, Danielle, and Alana - along with Dash Hutton on Drums. They fill their songs up with catchy hooks, and choruses that blend their and mixing their voices over driving, rolling guitars.

  "The Wire" and its video are about one of the tougher things in life: breakups. And yet, this video manages to make light of the topic and turn it into a kind of funny topic. The lyrics of the song clearly show the emotional turmoil that comes with cutting the cord on the relationship, with lines like, "You know I'm bad at communication/that's the most important part of relationships/and I'd give it all away just to know you'll be okay" or the chorus "I fumbled/and when it came down to the wire/it felt right". There's some vulnerability and conflict here, its not an easy situation, just like in any relationship. The video though, which shows each band member breaking up with her respective boyfriend shows no such turmoil, in fact there is comedy there. Not because of some strange idea that girls are not strong enough to be the dumpers, but rather a rare depiction of each boyfriend completely falling apart emotionally. That doesn't sound funny, right? And yet, it is.

  The idea that men can be the ones to break down in very open and public ways, crying over old pictures and just for the most part not hold it together is for some reason pretty funny.

The Wire

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Scenes from 7th Period

     "--and if we take Thomas Jefferson, we can plug him into the quadratic equation here using "x" as a symbol."

   7th period always seems to drag on for an eternity. It is one or two periods after lunch and that bologna sandwich is now a brick sinking ever so slowly in the stomach. The lights are dimmed for the overhead projector and the temperature is just warm enough to drift off. No one is passing notes, but everyone seems to be trying not to pass out. I'm in the back of the room doodling in my notebook, trying to stay awake and failing with gusto. My pen trails a lazy line, making hazy geometric shapes: a triangle here, an octagon there, oblong circles in between. I glace up, Mrs. Grolf is still droning on about math or history, the teachers have been combining two or more subjects lately to make class more engaging. In reality it just means no one ever knows where they are coming from or going to.

  I glance back to my notebook, this time my hand makes the pen create a one sided arrow. I then start at the other end and zig-zag making a series of triangles to connect to the top. Nifty. I look up again...the minute hand has not moved a centimeter...and I look down....and up...the clock hands never seem to move as if defying me to call them broken...I glance down again, my page is filled to the brim with cross hatching done without care, abstract shapes and dinosaur outlines...I look up again. The room is still dim, but there's no overhead projector anymore. In its place is a row of 40 watt bulbs and a poster for a film I have never heard of. I look down to see my desk and doodles are gone. I am sitting in a plastic chair.

"--and that's why a bear would beat a lion every time, right?"

I turn to see a friend wearing glasses. I think his name's Tim or maybe Matt, no, definitely Tim, "Er, yeah, bear nine times out of ten. Um, what's going on?"

  "We're waiting for Eliza, remember?"

That's it! That girl, she's always late, but we haven't been sitting here long. We talk about the movie we're about to see. We're excited, though while I think its going to be funny, Tim insists it's a tragedy. That's what he read in the paper anyway. I don't hear the door open, but Eliza's sitting with us now. She's holding Tim's hand, with the side of her body pressed against him. She's wearing a blue shirt, like robin's egg blue, and khaki shorts. Her hair is in a pony tail starting at the very top of her head. We all talk for another moment and eventually we agree that we should probably get tickets. Tim volunteers to go buy them for everyone.

   As soon as he's gone Eliza takes my hand and leads us to the other side of the room. She pushes me against the wall, our bodies touching. "Eliza, wait!"

  She shakes her head sadly and says, "My name is Katee."Her tongue runs across my lower lip and we kiss for a long minute. Katee embraces me and I am utterly enchanted and bewildered.

She lets me go and walks back to Tim. I want to shout. To say, "Wait! Don't go!" But I don't. I do nothing. I blink and Tim and Katee/Eliza are gone. Faded away like the after image from staring at the sun. I blink again, they're still gone. I run outside to look for them.

  Outside the theater it has begun to rain. A thick fog has settled in as well. I think I see their silhouettes drifting away down the road. I run to catch up, but the fog is not safe, I feel small things almost strike me and whizz past. Bullets? I duck and spin, my feet still running. I shield my head with my arms and hope for the best.

  There is shouting up ahead. Short, clipped, barked commands. The words are not audible, but the intention is clearly angry.

I see a group through the fog. I decide to try walking towards them with my hands up. Maybe they won't shoot me? Maybe they have some decency? Maybe they can see in this fog with more clarity than I have. I approach and I can see the guns they are holding. The guns are not automatic machine guns, the shape is sleeker, smaller, rounder. The clip comes in a wide plastic bulb. I realize I made a mistake. I shout, "I was already shot! I'm out of the game!"

    "Oh yeah? I ain't see no paint on ya!", shouts a figure with a gun.

                          I pause in place.

"He's not holding a gun, Gary, let him through!", another voice shouts.

  The group makes way and I amble past, hands still up as a sign of diplomacy. I mumble a thanks for not shooting me. They weren't bullets earlier, but rather paint-balls. I laugh. Still painful, though not as deadly by far.

 I wonder where Katee is now. I wonder if she'll kiss me again. I hear a woman over a mega-phone: "Isoceles Triangle!" The fog lifts and I see students running with long lengths of rope, coming together to form geometric shapes. Its an odd and beautiful sight.

There's a loud buzzer sounding. Once, then twice. I look around, now I'm in a long room - study hall. Over the PA system the secretary says, "7th period starts in 2 minutes. Try not to be tardy."

  I wipe at my mouth in case of drool. There is none. I collect my books and make my way to Algebra.