Just yesterday

Sitting alongside the old man is a duckling. The old man and a duckling; him almost crossed legged, her looking a bit lost, sort of half sitting half ready to jump in the canal.

The old man is staring out across the fields with his hands on his knees oblivious to the duckling.

The duckling is looking up at the old man, is looking left and right; not that she knows what left and right is and she is looking at the water.

The old man wipes a tear from his cheek and smiles as a moorhen drifts on by. He gives a little snort of chuckle and stretches his legs rubbing his knees. He remembers the wedding like it was yesterday; sixty seven years just yesterday. It was sixty seven years just yesterday when she died. He never remarried. He remained faithful. He is a virgin of ninety three years. Sixty seven years just yesterday, on her birthday, on their wedding day ten minutes after the ring was placed on her finger, she died.

He has waited for this day to come, this day today. He can feel it in his bones, in his chest, in his knees; he can feel that today is a good day to kiss the bride once more.

The duckling looks lost in the silence of the ripples as a barge’s engine put-puts on by. She aches more than anything to ride those ripples but she’s lost her mother and her sisters and brothers. All she has is this old man rubbing his knees who doesn’t even know she’s there.

The old man smiles as he takes a breath and using his last bit of creaking will power he turns to kneel and stand thinking that this is the time to meet his bride.

“Quack …”

An event like this can knock us mortals to the core, can brings tears of loneliness to well up, can make us feel strange, can make our hearts shudder a little and our souls to perhaps emit a smile of corded warmth to the event. And so it has to the old man.

That little lost almost silent quack stings the old man’s breath. He cries at that pitiful little creature’s plight. He sits down again and turns his face to the duckling. He reaches out his hand, palm up.

The duckling sees the strength in that hand, sees that with the smallest of moves she could be crushed, slapped away, thrown away … yet she also sees the wisdom that is in the ages of nature and so she steps onto his palm and looks up into his oaken face.

The old man lifts the duckling beak to nose and sees that today is not a good day to swim. He feels the loneliness of his life fade away as he looks into her eyes and sees that just yesterday she said yes as today this duckling said quack.

He stands with his wobbly knees and cradling the duckling, walks home, smiling, and from his soul there comes a warmth that will last … who knows for how long but now she is happy, she is not lost, she is not lonely, she did not die just yesterday sixty seven years ago, she is here in the palm of his hands.

This was originally written on my story site for Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday on March 1st, 2013 and the prompt was serendipity

The Oak of Time (Part One)

In the midst of green deep in the forest of Graiall there lives a kingdom of Leaf Riders, led by the valiant and very handsome Bladewhistler.

And there he sits now upon his powerful and immensely fast Leafwind.

Oh there are many many living in Graiall and all not much bigger than your little finger and oh to see them smile, to see them dance, and oh to see them ride is so thrilling, so breath-taking and oh so so green like the shades and shadows of the liquid velvet of the forest.

Bladewhistler is at that moment in his life where he has a choice. He is at the fork where his age will either remain the same and he will live forever in the company of his friends and dance and sing and play and ride or he will grow into a grand elder and live in the one place all Graiallians dream of … The Oak of Time where green is born, a place of perfection where the music of peace echoes between each and every branch, and the timeless beauty of nature’s essence shines its soul for all to feel and for all to become at one with life.

Now you might think that’s an easy choice for Bladewhistler to make, who wouldn’t want to touch and be a part of Mother Nature herself? Well let me tell you something, it takes only the truest of heart and soul to reach The Oak of Time and the journey is a long one, and sometimes hard too and sometimes fun.

What will he do?

Eldritch the fat, son of…

This is the situation upon which Eldritch – son of Alwyn, grandson of Easchlen, Great-Grandson of that worthless peasant (who didn’t ever do a day’s work, yet always seemed to get fatter), Wyrnsnold the third – found himself pondering.

“If I eat more than Wyrnsnold, will I be immortalized in a story of fifty-five words?”

~

The prompt from dVerse was to write a fifty-five word story.

How fare ye

“Hallo there!”

“How fare ye?”

“I would fare better if I weren’t so cold!”

“Come to mine and see there lies bed , fire and all manner of edibles.”

“You are most kind sir.”

“It is not kindness, sir.”

“If not kindness, then what?”

“Why it is plain. You are cold and hungry and I see also the rain is upon you.”

“True enough.”

“Then I am offering you my home. Not kindness.”

“I welcome it and thank you.”

“Enter, take off those wet clothes… have no worry sir we are men together. Remove your wet garments and I shall place them before the fire.”

“You are very…”

“Do not call me kind, Sir.”

“You are very… welcoming, Sir.”

“Good, you see I care not for your skin, for we are the same you and I. Now go to the room there and fetch blankets and slippers.”

“You have a plentiful stock of cloth Sir.”

“Yes yes, take whatever feels the warmest for you and come sit here. I have food enough for the two of us.”

“Sir… your fire is most desirable.”

“Then see let’s fill our plates, and take ourselves to the fire.”

“Such a generous host, Sir.”

“Mind now, no more nonsense of such talk and mind the spits… watch now!”

“’tis a very lively fire indeed, Sir.”

“Would you care for ale or wine?”

“Oh you shower me.”

“No no nothing of the sort. I am thirsty after this meal and I am taking the ale, what say you?”

“If it pleases you, Sir, then I shall take the ale too.”

“Excellent, and once that barrel has emptied we shall attack those bottles there.”

“Sir, I am not accustomed to such hearty meals and such rich drink.”

“Fear not my friend, I can call you friend?”

“Why of course yes!”

“Good, then fear not friend. We shall finish the ale, eat more and hence clear the table to make way for the wine.”

“It is good ale, Sir.”

“The best!”

“To you, Sir, my host.”

“To you, Sir, my friend.”

“To us!”

“To us!”

“Mind the spits, your fire is very lively indeed tonight”

“A good fire…”

“A good fire…”

“More wine, friend?”

“Wine… I am indeed full… my head wants sing… What say you!”

“A song, yes!”

“Ohhhhhh the roads are long
and the rain comes strong…”

“Hey ho so glad it’s not snow! Ha!”

“Ohhhhh the cows are hiding
and the duck are smiling…”

“Hey ho so glad it’s not snow! Ha!”

“Ohhhhh…..”

“So glad it’s not snow, ha haa!

“Ohhhhhh… Shir I musht resht my head upon thish bedtshc……”

“Rest well my friend, rest well.”

“Grughgh zizzzz grughgh zizzzz grughgh…..”

“Ha you sound like a drunken ass, Ha! Rest well for tomorrow you wake alone. For tomorrow I shall be gone and all this shall be yours my friend.”

And so it was, he woke alone and saw upon the table a note.

“Sir this house is yours now
I am an old man, older than you think
older than you can imagine.

Keep the fire burning
do not let it go out
for if you do
you shall surely be haunted
by more than this friendly ghost.

Your friend

J.

Keep the fire burning!”