It Was Not a Beautiful Death

We’ll steal your boots, we said,
over cold pizza, soda and beer.
OK, mostly root beer.
We were nerds like that.

The boot stealing and looking for loose change
was supposed to happen in an age filled with floating cars;
not two years before hover boards should have been invented.

Every bad luck joke thrown back in our faces -
even the luckiest man on earth got to make a speech,
before nerves withered,
twisting muscles, stealing words,
like a cursed prince in a fairy tale.

It reminded me of my favorite one,
and a comic relief’s tears,
once it was remembered
sometimes fairy tales don’t end well.
At least not for everybody concerned. 

And the best you can hope for,
if you cannot wield a righteous flame,
if you do not hold a magic staff,
if you rolled poorly,
at least in our memories you are restored
to full hero’s health,
even if your death was not the stuff of bard song.

We didn’t take your boots in the end. 

Song Choice: One by Metallica

Process Note: This post is part of Imaginary Gardens For Real Toad's September 2015 post, where we were asked to select a poem of one of the young writers Kerry teaches as inspiration for our poem and help them to complete their target of 300 poems in 30 days. I was inspired by Farewell by Nishka Ramkhelawan, using the line "It was not a beautiful death" as my inspiration. Friends and long time readers may have guessed by now it was also inspired by the death of a good friend, just about two years ago from ALS, better known as Lou Gherig's disease. 

Faerie Song

Come away dear heart.
What? You don’t trust me.
But I’ve come with you in mind.
In the foreign melody alarmingly familiar,
in the joy of your childhood,
in the beat of your woman's heart,
in the scent of possibilities born in the spring,
in the delight of summer's readiness,
I have come.

I have songs to caress your ears,
and dances to teach only to you.
Question my intentions? 
You are a smart one.
But let me ask you,
what is it you want to matter?
What is it you want for that matter?

You want music.
I have it.
You want words.
I have those too.
You want to taste every bit of beauty there is,
like a greedy child, heedless of the ache to come.
I have that too.
You want love?
Of course, but you knew the answer to that, didn't you?

I can’t promise you won’t go mad first.
But I can promise to do my best to keep the ache far away,
for as long as inhumanly possible.
And revel with you as your eyes and ears open
to the miracles hiding in plain sight.
What do you say?
Care to dance?

Magic Lesson

The girls filed into their chairs facing the demonstration table with the old dollhouse at the head of the classroom. Only a patient observer might have been able to distinguish one from another, a placement of a freckle, some minor variations in height. They were indeed there, but it was hard not to look at the stiff pleats of the skirts, the length of the tails of their hair ribbons and the way each of them held their head with the same look of detached attention that made it easy to dismiss them as a monolithic mass.

The headmistress entered the room several minutes after, holding a golden birdcage with a small dove frantically beating its wings against the bars. She set the cage on a high stool near the table. None of the small eyes blinked or looked away when she reached in, grabbed the bird, ignoring its small retaliatory pecks and the blood they drew, and twisted its neck over the dollhouse.

“You may come up and observe now,” she said, placing the lifeless bird back in the cage. The girls went up to the doll house with no jostling or shoving and watched as new doll, a perfect image of a middle aged man, complete with a poorly concealed bald spot, materialized in the house. An eyeball about the height of new doll started rolling in its direction and although the doll’s mouth opened, no scream came out as it ran from the room it appeared in. 

In the other rooms of the doll house, similar images presented themselves with some dolls faring much better than others, but all of them re-materializing again a few minutes after misfortune befell them, only to run through the house again.

The headmistress finished tending to her small wounds and motioned for the girls to return to their seats. She was about to turn to get out her lesson plan for the day when she found she could not move at all. Anger buzzed in her mind as she saw a small set of feet come towards her and felt a small hand positioning her limbs until she was standing straight, hands placed at her sides looking straight at one of her charges.

The girl held the broken dove in one hand, her index finger on its bloody beak. “No Missus, you won’t be able to move. I’ve enough of your blood here to be sure you aren’t going anywhere. I wouldn’t count on any of the others. Even if they did know what to do, I’ve made sure to bind them good and proper to their chairs. It didn’t take too much special to be sure of that.”

The girl turned the headmistress so she could see. They were all sitting in their chairs facing the dollhouse.

“I am grateful to you Missus. I learned an awful lot from you I never could have learned anywhere else. The magic, that was gift enough. But I learned that knowledge doesn’t necessarily make one kind. I learned a lot about my will and my pride, to make sure to never set myself up as the least or the best, so I’d stay hidden in plain sight. I learned I could take the knowledge you gave, and although it changed me a bit, it couldn’t change the core of me, if I didn’t let it.”

The girl pulled a feather from the bird, stood on tiptoe to touch it to the headmistress’s brow. Her body fell back on the floor.

The girl walked back to the cage, placing the bird’s body back inside but still holding the feather. “I’ve learned to be a bit cruel, though I’m not proud of it. At least I haven’t forgotten what I was like before I learned it.” 

She turned to face her former classmates. “You aren’t her. Not yet. If you can cry just one honest tear, that’ll break the enchantment holding you to the chairs and you can go your way. But I know it may take a while for that, so until then you can watch the dollhouse.”

She turned the dollhouse on the table and moved it closer to the other girls so they could see everything going on inside. Laying the feather on top of the house she took one last look at her classroom and walked out.

A doll, the perfect likeness of the headmistress, appeared inside the house. And then she began to run. 

This post is for Magpie Tales 285 Check out the link for more literary fun

Les Enfants Miserables

I got very excited when I heard that the musical for one of my children's school was going to be Les Miserable. I loved it as a teen! It would be so much fun to watch the movie version with my kids, as I have done with every play they've gotten involved in. Then I remembered Fushigi Yuugi.

Let me backtrack a bit. Fushigi Yuugi is one of my favorite anime series. I like to re-watch it from time to time and a bit ago, one of the children expressed an interest in watching it along with me. Sure, why not? I should state that this was the more sensitive of the two children and while this isn't the goriest or most violent anime series by a long shot the TV trope "Anyone Can Die" fully applied to this one, as well as "Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds". But we've watched Dr. Who and most of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which is certainly more gory and violent), so this shouldn't be so bad.

Yeah, not so much.

I was pretty surprised by how into it the child was, and how the above tropes and all the other attendant twists and terms of plot affected them. We actually had a version of this famous conversation watching the show. The other child noticed their sibling getting quite involved in the show (though there was No Way In Hell the first child would admit it) and asked to watch too. Now this is my not quite as sensitive child who took the sad parts of Dr. Who and Buffy in stride often going to the next activity merrily while the other one glared at them for not fully giving in to the pathos involved. The first child did not want to watch with the second at all, sure that this would be the case again.

Until it wasn't.

We now refer to Fushigi Yuugi as the series that taught the second child "the feels". Oh yeah, the Princess Bride conversation happened again. As well as the lower lip going, and tissues being grabbed.

And the first child LOVED it. After the first death, the first child insisted on being in the room to witness the other child finally learning fandom feels. And it didn't stop there. My niece and nephew also got to watch the series and while each of them had their moments of "Oh my god - they did not just die, did they?", that set of siblings also got joy knowing the other one (and my kids as well) had an attack of the feels at the exact same spots.

So, back to Les Miserables. I sat the kids down and told them they had the option of watching the movie if they wanted to. "It isn't called Les Happy Peoples", I said. "It's Les Miserables for a reason. I knew of at least one person who went through a dark night of the soul after watching it". Their eyes got wide, but then they looked at each other... and the question is no longer who dies but who will break first.


So sure, we'll probably watch it. And I've invited my niece and nephew along for the viewing (I know at least one of them really likes musicals) and while there will be sad feels, each of them will take comfort in the fact the others feel it too.

Song choice: I was kind of feeling Sad Songs (Say So Much) by Elton John, but let's face it. With those two Schadenfreude from Avenue Q is a better choice.