The Wizard of OddThe village children called him the Wizard of Odd. Adults just called him Odd, both to his face and behind his back. His real name? I don’t think anyone knew, and certainly no one to my recollection bothered to ask him. Most children dared not ask, unless they wanted to be ladled into a soup bowl and served up with a crusty hard roll. Mothers warned their young not to speak with him. “His mind swims in a dangerous place,” they were cautioned, “so don’t speak to him unless you want to end up in his cauldron of boiled fish and simmered for soup.” Children aren’t fools; they scampered off like rosy-eyed mice when he came into view. Adults drew curtains tight, slammed shutters closed, bolted doors and hid from his sight. My mother was no different; she was fear him, too.Odd couldn’t possibly have cared less. On most days, he scoured alleys in solitude. Light of foot, the other a wooden chair leg strapped on as a peg, he made his way along uneven dirt lanes rutted deep with cart wheel tracks, his eyes tracking slow, wide visual zigzags from side to side. He trained his eyes for bits of curiosities, brushed and broomed by women against the foundations of houses that edged along the road without delineation. Odd seemed permanently hinged and bent at the waist, his aching knees long ago locked stiff from angry red inflammation. His stride and demeanour left most villagers thinking he was perpetually drunk or odd minded.“Ahhh. And what have we here,” he breathed in a rasp, and pulled at a length of string caught and entangled in winter bare branches. He rolled it into a larger ball of string that he kept in his coat pocket. Slowly, he continued to walk four paces more before rounding the corner. Delight shined through the milky haze in his eyes.“ Hey-ho!” he huffed by way of a laugh. A discarded rusting pump brought a smile to his purple-tinted lips. “Treasure for the taking,” he winked at his ball of string. A bounty of screws and rods and bolts and nuts and odd unidentifiable bits, plus a half-eaten leg of mutton that he decided was too rich pickings for the rats. He ate and chewed and swallowed, and slowly made his way back home to his windswept stone cottage at the edge of the sea.“I’m home, my flea bitten, fish-foraging, foul-furry friend!” he called out, and then pushed the front door closed with a hammering thump of his peg leg. The cat meowed its pleasure, and then changed its mind and hissed like a boiling kettle. It glared, turned and walked away. It cared nothing for nuts, bolts, screws and/or rods of any size, colour or description. Odd started lashing string to the wooden dowels he’d carved from fallen tree branches. A pile of them were stacked high in the corner where the cat usually slept. He fingered the string, whipping it up and over and under dowels, one to another, again and again, one connecting this one to that one, ribs lashed with stringy sinew. Fragile and with care, he moved the structure from his house on to the beach where he continued to work all through the night. The cat kept watch from the cottage window as the moon shone down across the still sea. By morning his creation was finished.White window curtains were stitched tightly into a long rib of top spinal wooden fins, dowels formed ribs and legs lashed with what no one else wanted – discards, rejects, throw-outs, cast-offs. He knew this beast like he knew himself. He empathised with every piece of its being. Odd knew that the static of excitement and the high sea breeze would ignite motion into this beast that he shaped like a long-bodied reptile. “Or a centipede,” he smiled, “a kite, if you will, set into motion as the wind rippled against its spine.”“Surely God,” Odd thought, “would share in his joy of creation.”And as if on cue, the wind blew life into the kite, sending it skittering away across the beach.Odd and his cat chased after it.I believe they’re still out there on the beach chasing after it.~Misky
Misky - I love your writing. Your work has such whimsy - ladled into a soup bowl and served up with a crusty hard roll was a favorite line in particular.
This was absolutely delightful, Misky; something that would never have crossed my mind in a zillion years.Jeannine is right; whimsical and child-like, yet a bit of Mary Poppins, too. Love it. You've got to sub this to a mag in print. Kids and adults would love it.
Claudsy, am I allowed to sub it after I've posted it here? Is that why Hannah chose not to post here at Flashy?
You can just submit your story anywhere and if your story gets submitted, you can just go back here and delete it (if there's a problem).If I some day can afford to have a proper internet connection, I'll be able to maintain a blog or a web just like Hannah - and then of course, I'd like to have my readers go there to read my stuff. So far I only have "a mobile connection" and that means that I don't overload my computer with blogs and webs - so when people publish their stuff on their own blogs, I unlikely will read their stories because I keep down my website hits to a minimum.But you can delete your stories from here and that's important - which means they are "workshopped" not "published."
Misky!!! I SO love this! This entire piece is packed with such visual detail and your ending supplies an emotional surge, I'm sharing in the joy of this creation! Thank you, so much for sharing this!! BIG smiles!!!
I'm glad that you had fun with it. I certainly did. :D
This is loads of fun. Here's something: I want to wander the earth.I want to be generous in my reception of other people. I don’t want them to close up in my presence like mussels on ocean rocks when the sea recedes. I want them to feel open in my presence. I don’t want to intimidate them with proud carriage or flaunting of confidence. I want to be gentle with them. I want to find them all beautiful.I want to be able to hear what others are really saying. I want to listen past their words and hear the murmurs of their hearts.I want to not feel desperate, ever, for any reason.I want to be consistently aware of potentials and possibilities, no matter the weather of my soul.I want to always listen to the small but courageous voice that resides within the mesh of my ribcage — the voice that tells me what is right and what is wrong. I want to always act with that voice ringing in my frame. May I never fail to hear it. May I never fail to act on what I hear.I want to pace of earth to tame and tend it. Thousands of acres of the stuff. I want to cultivate it without chemicals. I want to listen to it, watch it grow and change with the seasons and years that pass. I want to understand the cycles bound to the dirt — cycles of wind, sky, rain, springshine and fallfreeze. I want my bones to tell me what weather is coming.I want to be slow to speak. Cautious with my words. Careful with my slogans. True to myself in all I say. I want my mouth to align with my heart. My clean heart.I want to not take everything so hard, so often. It’s true. Sometimes there are enough tears here to last a lifetime. I want to recognize that, sometimes, it really doesn’t have anything to do with me. My wings are whole, they have not been clipped.
THIS is SUCH an amazing testimony and prayerful piece!!! I'm so blessed by reading this, Veronica!! Your words are truly a gift. Thank you SO much for sharing this! Warm smiles~ Hannah
Veronica, this was lovely. Hannah was right; it's a testament of your desires, not of selfish things of this material world, but of things unseen, only felt, only taken with you at the end of this life's journey when the door at the end of your path opens and invites you through.Thank you for sharing this with us. It was one of my afternoon pleasures to read it.
Misky, love your story. I went in a whole other direction. Sometimes I worry about myself when writing flash. It all gets so dark!!The MasterpieceThe beach called to him and he walked along picking up pieces of driftwood and placing them in his basket. He did this every day and lately his vision seemed even clearer to him.No one had tried it before and he was looking forward to seeing it spring to life as a full blown project. But he needed the wood and only special wood so it wouldn’t be too heavy and the pieces would fit together.At last on the very last day of his searching he found the perfect piece. The one that would hold everything together. He stopped looking and right there on the beach he started building.Each day he built a little more and soon onlookers began to congregate to see where this fantastical project was leading. He struggled each day to make it higher and soon he had to get a ladder to reach the top. There he was on a ladder on the beach tying on white canvas sails to his sculpture and the crowd became a daily thing. He had to push his way through to the center to work on his piece.He had to create the pieces of wood to fit together just so and he had a few tools to help him there. He ran the wires up to his house where every morning he connected the machines and then ran down to the beach to finish his masterpiece.He sawed and beveled and honed his wood and then fit them together like pieces of a puzzle with triangles covering the entire structure. It was magnificent, but people could not decide what it was. Finally he placed the last white canvas sail on the top and he stood back on his ladder to view his creation.He walked around the piece tugging and adjusting until he was satisfied all was right. The crowd watched in awe as he pulled the switch. What was going to happen? Then after the man had unplugged every wire and left an empty space around the structure it started to shake a little. The crowd moved away a little, not sure what to expect. Then it happened. One of the triangles began to move. Gradually all of the triangles began to move and started a march toward the crowd.The man stood in front of his masterpiece and in awe observed how each part moved on its own. Finally he heard a loud parade song coming from the structure. It started moving faster and soon was marching like a band in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Lock step and sails rustling it moved to the tune and toward the crowd. Ever closer and faster than the people could run.People did start running down the beach trying in vain to get away from this white sailed monster sand ship that had suddenly sprung to life. The man pleaded to the moving structure to stop, but it did not and instead moved right on top of him crushing him to death. The crowd tried to move, but they were too close and most of them were also crushed. Screams ensued and the lighter younger ones raced to the shelter of the higher ground. The structure kept moving and the insidious parade song filled the empty air. It moved toward the sea and bobbed inside it like a giant buoy. No one was left onshore except a very young boy. But this wasn’t any little boy. Instead this boy communicated to the structure. “Good work, now sail away to destroy more humans. Our work is only beginning. Our human has done well and we are sorry he had to be sacrificed, but Paradland, our home needs the blood of humans. Our work will not be done until we have every human’s blood. Bon Voyage.”
Wow!! Barbara! Your's threw me for a loop in the end! I love this sentence of this section especially: "Lock step and sails rustling it moved to the tune and toward the crowd."It really carries the sound of marching! What a fun Flashy Fiction response, Thank you for sharing, lionmother!!
Ah, Barbara. I love allegory and that's exactly what this story feels like. Blame it on my training. I love it. It shows so much of today's world within it tiny frame.Excellent job. Now I have to reread everyone's story to get a better picture of how they all move together. I'm wondering if Misky's creature will hook up with yours. Wouldn't that be a hoot?
http://wordrustling.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/flags-of-wonder/I hope no one minds...I prefer to keep my pieces home but I'd love it if you would visit me!! Thank you!!
My husband got my son a mini version of one of these as a kit this Christmas. They've yet to built it, but the summer is coming...David came to the shore every day and placed the bot on the sandy beach, willing it to move. He’d been doing this for a year, but it remained stubbornly, resolutely motionless. He waited, praying that today would be the day, just like he had yesterday and all of the yesterdays stringing back to the day his father shipped out. It had been 14 months.The winds came to Aquilae once a year, during the rainy season when the hard earth would turn supple and green and the island would come to life once again, just as the storehouses were nearing empty and the men were getting restless. It was nature’s calendar at work, telling them to get ready to plant, and while the plants grew, to mend the ships and ready them for their annual sojourn. It was both yearly ritual and act of faith, the departure their only connection to the outside world, and their return dependent upon getting back before the winds died,isolating Aquilae from the mainland once again.David’s father had given him the bot just before he left, telling him that as long as it still walked, he’d be back. David hadn't seen it move since. Every day he came out to taste the salt in the air, and every night he found it instead in his mother’s loving gaze.He’d always treasured the bot, seen it as a talisman, but today, it seemed more like a small monster, with a multitude of legs to advance on its prey, a spine of sails to cut and slash. He’d never noticed how menacing it looked, how if it moved it would slither. It had probably stolen the wind, some sorcerer having tricked his father into buying it, knowing it would trap him on the mainland forever.David knew his father would never leave them intentionally, not while Lila was so little. He promised that he’d be there for David's birthday, and for Lila's, and he’d missed both, and soon would do so once again. David knocked the bot across the sand with a sweep of his hand. He heard the spine tick as the legs settled back into place, like a clock saying "not yet." Just as he was about to strike the bot again he saw his mother coming over the bluff with Lila on her hip.He expected to see her disapproval, but he found only understanding. She knelt down and he ran to her, careful not to knock her over, or jostle his sister, but allowed her to pull him in for a reassuring hug. Lila giggled when David kissed her head. He still had them both.David’s mother handed Lila to him, stood and walked towards the shore gazing out over the horizon.David tickled Lila under the chin and she giggled, prompting David to do the same when her goose down curls grazed his chin. His mother turned back to look at him, tears in her eyes, and brushed a stray wisp of hair from her face. She smiled as Lila giggled and pointed at the bot as it took its first steps across the sand.
This is so emotively and beautifully written, Jeannine. Thank you for joining us here, I really enjoyed your response to this prompt! Smiles!
Everyone has had such marvelous work here today. Jeannine this is as moving and experiential as all the others. It end is such a quick, yet poignant line. You set us up for it so well.Excellent story that I won't soon forget.
I just have to say here that I'm am more than impressed by the quality of Muse sharing today on this prompt. Thank you all for writing such great pieces. I hope all of you forever find pen and paper so that you can keep sharing those love, complex minds of yours.
This is such a sweet and touching sentiment, Clauds!!Thank you for all that you do!
First of all, thank you Claud for providing such a creative and unusual prompt. Then thank you for your comments on my story. I guess it is an allegory and the music probably was the most persuasive part. Hannah, so glad you loved the story!! Now I have to go read yours:)Jeannine I loved the tone of your story. The thoughts of the boy are so poignant, but I loved the way the boy interacted with his mother and little sister. Such great stories and so much fun. I'm coming back for the next one:)
I'm so glad you had fun, Barbara!! The prompt was one I posted, I get to post Friday prompts!!! It was so great to read you and I appreciate your visit, too!
Hannah, thanks for the prompt. It's so inspiring. I'm working on it but this will take me some time to get it precisely where I like it to be. I've got the twist, though.What an amazing sculpture.
OH, good, Andrea!! I was SO hoping that you'd enjoy this! I look forward to it!
I second Hannah's sentiment! The prompts have been so fun to work with, and It's fascinating to see how they strike each writer differently. It's fun to stretch out and do something completely different each time.
Smiles to you Jeannine!!!