Category Archives: fictionation

Lonely Open Country

Cool glass presses against the side of my forehead. There are so many stars out there in the North, all around us. We’re driving along a ridge between rolling hills and valleys. The land is dark. Headlights are the only artificial light I can see, ghosting off reflectors on the sides of the road. I stiffen my neck, try to change position so that my head doesn’t wallop the window. Little success, but no matter. I’m determined to watch the stars and the empty landscape pass.

It’s a chilly Autumn night, and it’s so alone out here. It feels that way after leaving the dance, but it’s a pleasant, full feeling. The dark woods and the memories of whirling skirts and smiling faces remind me of past times I never knew.

Enter the barn in the twilight, yellow Christmas lights strung up under the eaves. Farm folks and others, but mostly farm folks, have gathered from miles around to this barn in the middle of nowhere. They’re gussied up in their overalls and old-fashioned dresses. Everyone’s talking, and slowly, everyone finds a partner. That’s the hardest part. Once paired, we walk out onto the cement dance floor. It’s an open-sided barn with yesteryear’s hay still scattered around in clumps. The dancers wait for music, some patiently, some impatiently. Finally, the MC grabs the mic. The band is tuned up and ready. The music begins, and boy is it lively.

My flats slip on the concrete as I skip around the outside of the square. I nearly fall a couple times that night. Dumb shoes. It’s great fun. After a few dances my feet hurt from pounding the concrete floor, but I never sit out if I can help it. I came here to dance, and dance I shall.

Music echoes in my head on the ride home, head bumping against the glass, riding through lonely open country.

Questions

Who are you, really?

The question comes when you don’t expect it. It’s asked of every hero, every villain. And there’s always a choice.

Do you want to know who you are, really?

Some of us would rather not. Some of us would rather keep on living like we’ve been. Floating through without stopping to look.

Can you handle who you are, really?

It can’t be answered until you know. You won’t know until the first question’s been asked and you either want to know or the answer’s been forced on you. Some people avoid the question altogether.

Or at least for a while.

Stranger World

How do you prepare for the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?

You wait. You wonder. You cry. You push it away.

You’re “fine” once you’ve pushed it away. You’re so good you hardly know you’ve done it.

Till something makes you remember, and you feel the jolt, it’s closer now. It’s gaining on you. And it’s going to catch you, no matter how fast you run.

How do you prepare to be caught?

You can think about the other side. You can think of the last time this happened to you, remember that the scariest things turn into the best things. But that doesn’t help until you’re on the flip side.

Really all you can do is know that you made the right choice. It won’t seem like the right choice. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to be sad. And you’ll be alone.

Know you made the right choice when it’s about to catch you. Know the price you pay is directly related to the prize you glean. Know pain counts for something. Know it will be worth it, one way or another.

Welcome to the world, stranger.

Guitar Monster

It’s a monster!

Two legs, three arms, at least one head, and it’s making noise! What is that thing? We can’t tell. We don’t know. We’re running away!

Chickens are scared of guitars. They’re not too smart.

Wait, what’s that chattery sound? What’s that jar? The monster has corn! Oh! Oh! What do we do? How do we get the corn?

Chickens are crazy about corn. Even when it’s near a guitar.

Eek, run, the monster’s close! It’s opening the door! Quick, scoot out when it’s not looking. There. Wait, it’s throwing corn! GET THE CORN! This has got to be a safe distance, right? Now that it’s giving us corn…

Corn trumps guitar monster.

Worth Waiting For

DSCF5929sThis little plot of soil has every type of wildflower you could think of growing on it. Except, there are no flowers yet. No blossoms. But green leaves and stems and vines are everywhere, sprouts and shoots that soak up the sun and look as if they could grow into towering giants.

DSCF4737sOne bud opened before the mower came. Small and red as rubies, the ragged petals unfurled, the light caught in its throat, and it sang to the sky. This first flower was also the last.

The Gardener mowed down the flower buds, the vines, every last little bit of life was cut down and died in the sun. Everything, gone. Then the surgery happened. The Gardener pulled out the tender living things by the roots, one by one, every last bit. The soil was raw and tender and exposed. There was no more promise of flowers in the sun, of vines curling around susan stems, of new life sprouting from deep dark earth. The future was empty.

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It wasn’t too bad until the hoe started coming down, chopping gaping wounds in the earth, removing every vestige of green that had once been so beautiful. When rain came it stung the soil, pounding hard where droplets had once fallen softly, their path slowed by tender leaves and letting the earth drink slow. Now the rain hurt. It carried away crumbs of black. The soil lay flattened, soggy, and hopeless.

It waited. Waited until the sun began to shine again. Waited to warm up. The Gardener took the hoe that had caused so much damage and fluffed up the dark loam. The soil was ready for something. Ready for anything. What was the world waiting for?

Specks dropping in the wind from a hand high above, landing in the bruised and beaten dirt. Seeds that immediately began to warm and send out fuzzy roots. Seeds without competition, that couldn’t grow in the shade of living things, that wouldn’t have lived among the roots of established life. The seeds sprouted. Grew green and tall and pulled the crumbs of soil together, healed the cracks, softened the rain, and then sprouted buds.

These buds weren’t like the wildflowers. This soil wasn’t like the wild loam. Unsatisfied, it was tender, still waiting for new beginnings until the first shafts of yellow peeked from leaf covers and reflected the sun in all her blazing glory. This is what we were waiting for.

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Top Chicken

THE CAST

Charlotte, a Top Chicken
Rosy, a Chicken
That Strange Person, a Person

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Charlotte, Top Chicken

That strange person is back again. She’s approaching the coop. I charge to the front to investigate. I’m top chicken. Somebody’s got to take charge.

Is she after us? What did she do with our normal caretaker? We don’t know you, strange person! Go away! Or let us out to graze!

What’s that? You’ve got corn? Wow! Food! Let’s eat!

She gets into the coop when I’m not looking, having cleverly distracted the lot of us with succulent corn kernels. Now what’s she up to? Bringing food? Bringing water? I scoot under her, between her legs, peck at her shoe. She don’t bother me. I’m top chicken. But I don’t notice when she’s crouching down. Right on top of me!

Charlotte!” she says. “Skedaddle! I nearly sat on your head!”

I don’t care. I stalk around to her front side and prepare to dismantle her plastic croc. There’s got to be something good in there. Oh look! Sausages!

Bah, sausages can’t hold my attention. That dolt Rosy might be interested, but not me! Stuff to do! Business to attend to! What’s that? An odd round orb? An… an egg? What is it?

Get away from that, Charlotte,” she says, rudely knocking me away from the mysterious orb. I scoot back, stretch my neck long to keep my body at a safe distance, and further examine this oddity.

Back, Charlotte!” she says again, swatting me away. I walk back.

Charlotte, go away!” She pushes me back, and I nearly lose my balance. Rude. Humans think they own everything.

Then I see she’s got Rosy in her clutches. Look at that! She’s holding Rosy down just for me so I can peck Rosy’s face while she’s immobilized! I strut over and prepare to strike.

Get, Charlotte!” The strange person pushes me away before I can attack. Foiled again. No matter, I’m top chicken. I strut back and examine Rosy’s face, searching for the tenderest patch for me to sink my beak into.

Get away, bird! I’m trying to look at Rosy!” Again, rudely shoved away. But I won’t be intimidated. I walk right back.

Charlotte…!” And again, she shoves me away before I can attack! I’ve had it. Bully human. Foiling my plans. I’m a busy bird. I’ve got stuff to do, things to investigate. You can’t treat me like that.

I strut over to the side of the strange person, in a place she’s not looking. She’s not paying attention to me. I muster my strength and land a sharp peck on her thigh.

Charlotte! What!”

Now I’ve got her attention. I look up indignantly and give her my best evil eye. “Buk!” My most indignant cluck. That’ll show her.

She releases that dork Rosy and all of a sudden catches me up instead. The nerve! The indignity! My feathers are being ruffled! Wait, she’s looking me in the eye. She’s holding me up to her face. This is all right, I guess. I am top chicken, after all.

So you wanted attention, did you?” she asks me, her giant nose inches from my beak.

Buk,” I say placidly, and tip my head at her. This is more like it. This is the attention I deserve. Of course, my elevation has nothing at all to do with my importance as top chicken. But I appreciate the gesture.

There. Now you’ve got it,” the strange person says. And then she tips me on my side! I’m unbalanced! My feet are sideways and so is my head! I start kicking.

Okay okay I’m putting you down,” she says. Soon as my feet touch the ground I spring up and strut away. We’re done here.