Saturday, November 29, 2008
Picking up a watering can, the gardener began to douse some potted geraniums.
"An airline ticket? Where was she getting married?" Al asked.
"Danged if I know. It was all hush-hush. She made me promise I wouldn't tell a soul..."
Before John could finish his sentence, a loud scream cut him off. More animal than human, it pierced the air like a poison tipped dart finding its mark in Al. While the scream still echoed in his ears, it was followed by another sound, a high pitched wail that seemed to go on forever. And before John could speak again, Al had set off toward a wooden structure nearly obscured by pine trees. His long legs pumping, he sprinted further into the property.
To purchase one of my novels go to: www.jameszar.com and click on PURCHASE
Ani-mentals & Enviro-mentals helping the planet by their good attitudes
Orphaned at birth, Becan spent the first few years in an orphanage before attending a boarding school. And all through his days at Chapel in the Dirt Religious School (founded by Mater/Pater Praying Mantis) Becan was the brunt of the other student’s jokes. It wasn’t that the centipedes, the aphids and the earthworms were mean, it was more that Becan seemed to ask for it. You see, Becan was an earthbound bug who was determined to fly. All day long the other students would see him climb up rocks, and as he’d jump off he’d flap his arms with great gusto. Of course he was only airborne from the time his feet left the rock until his feet (or his face) touched the ground - which was only about a second. But he was a stubborn little fellow and never gave up trying.
Maybe the other students wouldn’t have noticed his antics if he hadn’t yelled, “Whee!” each time he jumped (but even that little bit of airtime gave him such a thrill he just couldn’t help himself).
Then one day a new student arrived from a neighboring village. Her name was Lavena and she had a beautiful black face and shiny red wings decorated with black polka dots. And even if Becan hadn’t seen her graceful flight, he would have fallen in love with her: she was that gorgeous. He wished he could introduce himself but he was too shy and so he tried to ignore her presence and continued to practice flying.
It was after his third jump, while he was lying flat on his face in the dirt, that he was approached by a group of earwigs who in an attempt to be helpful told him he was the laughing stock of Chapel in the Dirt.
Eghan the leader stepped forward, pulled Becan to his feet and said in a deep baritone, “You are a no account, no wing, lowly dirt lovin’ bug, man! You can’t fly now and you never will fly, so suck it up and stop makin’ a fool of yourself.”
Becan heard one of the group say to Eghan, “That’s a little harsh, don’t you think?”
Eghan turned to his friend and exclaim, “The dude has been fallin’ off rocks for twelve years!” Turning his attention back to Becan he stated, “Do yourself a favor, guy, get a hobby.”
As Becan watched the earwigs march away, Lavena flew down and landed on the newly vacated rock.
“You must be Becan,” she said, “My name is Lavena.”
So smitten he couldn’t speak, Becan simply nodded his head.
“I come from the same village as your mother,” she continued.
“You knew my mother?” Becan exclaimed.
“I didn’t know her personally, but I’ve heard many stories about her, about how beautiful she was and how much she loved to fly. She could fly higher and stay up longer than any of her people. And even now she holds the longest time in flight for the entire country.”
“Wow,” Becan said in awe. “That must be why I’ve always wanted to fly,” he added in amazement as a lifelong question was finally answered. Sadly he sighed, “But I didn’t get my mother’s wings.”
“Maybe that’s because you were meant for something else, a job that would have meant the world to your mother.”
“Our village needs help from someone very strong. Strong like you.”
Lavena nodded gravely.
“I can fly you to my village,” she said, “if you’ll help us by carrying our precious store of magic lady bug seeds out of the path of melting snow, to a safe spot. It’s only several feet away,” she explained hastily. “You see, we ourselves can fly to safety but there are too many seeds for us to carry and the rose blossom pouch is too heavy for us to move whether we’re flying or trying to pull it on the ground. But our leader, Llyr says that a ground hugging bug such as yourself is strong enough to move it. Will you help?”
“Take me to your leader,” Becan replied.
Lavena flew off and when she returned a minute later she was holding a small piece of vine in her hand.
“Take one end and hold on tight,” she said.
Becan did as he was told, and although being up in the air was something he’d always wanted, he was so nervous he kept his eyes squeezed shut the entire trip.
It turned out that Llyr was right, it took Becan, a lowly ground bug, most of the afternoon to drag the seed filled rose blossom pouch to high ground but the important thing was that he did it. He was so proud of his accomplishment that as Lavena flew him over the tree tops toward Chapel in the Dirt, he simply held on tight and took in the sights from his new perspective. And from then on anytime he felt the urge to fly he asked his sweetie, Lavena, who was only too happy to oblige.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Laura was aware of her sweating palms and the rising heat in her cheeks, her blood now racing in an attempt to somehow help her escape the danger. But there was nowhere to go and she was frozen in horror, unable to even moan her fear.
When she finally pulled her gaze up to Mac’s face she saw his vulnerability. On display for the first time it revealed itself through a mask of gray skin, shiny with perspiration. And for a brief moment Laura felt no fear, only mild curiosity.
To purchase one of my novels go to: www.jameszar.com and click on purchase
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Enviro-mental & Ani-mentals: aiding the planet through good attitudes.
BRIELLE BUTTERFLY-Faerie (Ani-mental)
It was a dream. Or was it? Brielle couldn’t tell, even though she could feel herself scaling the stem of a brightly colored, beautifully scented flower. Struggling upward it seemed that the stem went on forever and trying to reach the top was beginning to fatigue her.
She remembered a similar stalk (or perhaps it was the same one) from several days ago, only then the climb was easy. But of course that was the same day she had felt so energetic and free. Maybe this was a dream.
Suddenly she felt something touch her, and when she looked she saw that a parade of ants were coursing past her in the opposite direction, and as one had veered off track it had nudged her. She wanted to ask them where they were going but the question seemed to be stuck in her head. She decided it was just as well; ants were usually in too big a hurry to waste their time being polite to strangers. Brielle was glad she’d been raised to have better manners.
Looking down the stalk to the ground below she saw several roly-poly bugs frolicking in the dirt, and she remembered making her way to the beautifully colored flower across that same patch of earth. Only for her the trip was difficult, not fun like the kind the roly-polly’s were enjoying.
As she focused once again on her goal of reaching the top she saw, from the corner of her eye, movement several yards away. Remaining still she watched the green and yellow striped worm as it munched its way along (devouring a tomato plant that was long ago depleted) clearing the path for the next generation of tomato plants to sprout up.
When Brielle saw that the tomato worm was so engrossed in its job that it didn’t even know she was there, she once again took up her ascent.
Above her, and above the top leaves of the plant, the sun was breaking through a fine mist of fog; it looked like it would be a fine spring day and the thought of it seemed to lighten her heart. Finally she reached a large leaf and out of fatigue she fastened herself underneath.
Only dimly aware of a faint voice in her mind, she suddenly realized it was repeating, “Be still. Be quiet”. Brielle surrendered to the voice and fell into a motionless state of pure attention. Hours, day, or years might have passed, she didn’t know until finally an innermost desire of love urged to her to awaken and out of her journey of isolation and confinement, light and color filled her soul.
When she looked into a pearl of dew, her reflection was one of magnified beauty. With great joy she took flight, adding her radiance to the world around her; knowing she was the glory of life itself.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
It was a five hour drive to the prison and as the miles clicked past Linda grew more apprehensive, at times even forgetting why she was going.
She tried to focus on the pools of lavender iris in the open, green fields. They reminded her of her mother’s garden and she wondered how Anna was. But she felt certain Anna wouldn’t want to hear from her any more than she wanted to talk to Anna. A yearly birthday card to her mother was as close as Linda wanted to get.
When she arrived at the prison she had to wait her turn with the other visitors, a sad, angry group, and she wondered if Doctor Carr was right and that underneath it they were all frightened people.
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Thursday, November 20, 2008
The small space was crammed with the pieces from the display room. Carelessly stacked they formed a jumble of glass, canvas and bronze. Quickly Marjorie shut the door on the mess; if Nathan saw the way his work was being treated he’d probably commit suicide on the spot.
“It’s okay,” she called out gaily, as she walked back to the main part of the gallery. “They’re safe and sound in the back.”
“In the back? What are they doing back there?”
Thinking quickly Marjorie said, “We’re supposed to get in some new sculptures; I’m sure Mr. Thatcher put them in the back so they’d be safe.”
“But he does remember that my exhibition is tomorrow night, right? I mean everything will be up in time, won’t it?” Nathan asked anxiously.
“Hasn’t it always been?” Marjorie said jokingly.
“No! Last year Sid canceled my exhibit two days before it was supposed to start because he said he had to play in a golf tournament in Arizona. He said my exhibit slipped his mind.”
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Saturday, November 15, 2008
Maddox was a nervous little mouse. And like most mice he stayed in his hidey-hole during the day and only came out to eat at night when no one was around and all was quiet; so it was very unusual that he found himself awake at noon one brilliantly sunny day.
He had been sound asleep, snuggled beneath his multi-colored, tiny comforter, in his tiny bed with the tiny, white pillow when a shaft of sunlight shinning through the door of his hidey-hole awoke him and he realized his tiny tummy was rumbling from hunger.
After roaming his little house without finding so much as a teensy crumb of cheese, not so much as a cracker crumb, not even a single grain of sugar he poked his head out of his hidey-hole to see if perhaps he’d dropped a dab of cream from the cat’s bowl on his way home the previous night. But as usual the floor was shiny, and clean as a whistle.
Maddox looked left, then right, then all round the huge kitchen, ready to dash back into his hidey-hole if he saw movement. But the immaculate room was quiet; as quiet as Maddox himself, in fact. And Maddox was a very quiet guy despite his rather large feet, feet so large he’d never found a pair of shoes or slippers that fit him. In fact he had never come across a pair of socks that fit him either. But having lived with big feet his entire life he knew how to be…well…as quiet as a mouse. And so, on his big tippy-toes he headed for the breakfast nook across the room, hoping to find a drop of jam or some toast crumbs on the floor beneath it.
He was almost to his destination when he heard a sound and saw a shadow in the hall as it moved toward the kitchen entryway. As quick as…well…a frightened mouse he scurried up the corner of the cabinet next to the stove, up a light cord, and in his excitement he kept on going until he suddenly found himself atop a huge display of hanging pans that began to gently swing under his tiny weight.
Once he got his heart to stop its wild thumping he leaned over the edge of a copper bottomed soup pot to see if the intruder was the fearsome Siamese that shared the house, but the large toes on Maddox’s large feet were much to big to grip the pot and he began a quick slide down the pot’s shiny side where he landed smack on top of the softest, furriest something Maddox had ever felt. He knew right away that is was not the Siamese (not only because of the undignified yelp the creature had emitted, but also because the thing he’d landed on was much to small and much to fluffy). As soon as the animal turned its head to see what was sitting on its back, Maddox recognized the little fellow as some kind of a curly haired, white puppy.
“Beg your pardon,” Maddox said politely. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“But zees ees very strange,” the puppy said with a French accent. “But where you haf come from, I don’t know.”
“Up there,” Maddox said pointing at the pan rack. “I thought you were the Siamese.”
“Oui, and I think zee same thing about you. Zat Siamese, she scares me to death, I think. And she ees always sneaking around, til I become zee nervous wreck.”
“That’s my problem, too,” Maddox exclaimed, climbing down from the little dog’s back.
“Already I’m here one hours and zee Siamese has slapped me twice…for no cause.”
“Well she’d do worse than that if she got her paws on me,” Maddox explained, “and all I ever do is take the teensiest, tiniest bits of food for my meals. You’d think she’d be willing to share just a little!”
“My name ees Gascon and my friend I will share my food with you…eeef you can think of a way to geet it without geeting caught. Maybe I can do zee one bark when I see zee Siamese head for zee kitchen.”
“Hmmm,.” Maddox mumbled as his tiny brain began to turn out an idea.
“Wait right here,” he said suddenly.
As he darted back toward his hidey-hole Gascon called after him, “But monsieur what ees zee name I call you?”
Oh,” Maddox said, stopping long enough to reply, “My name is Maddox and it means: beneficent.”
“Zees ees very good. I like it a lot,” Gascon said, as he watched Maddox duck into his hidey-hole.
A second later Maddox reappeared and hanging from his neck was tiny bell. The bell was silent as Maddox darted across the kitchen floor, but upon approaching Gascon, Maddox stood up on his very large feet and when he shook his head the little bell quietly tinkled.
“You can hear that okay, can’t you?” Maddox asked.
“Oh oui, my friend, I have very good ears.”
“Good, then I can help you, too. When you want to move through the house in safety just let me know. I’ll go first and once I spot the Siamese I’ll find a safe spot and keep her occupied by ringing my bell. And that’ll also be a signal to let you know where she is.”
“My little friend, you have Coeur; zat mean “heart” in my native tongue and I salute you.”
Maddox took a little bow.
“And,” Gascon continued, “I weel do my part and guard zee kitchen door during your mealtimes.”
And so an unusual alliance was formed of necessity and worked wonderfully until the Siamese finally grew weary of being subverted and gave up. But even then, Maddox and Gascon remained good friends.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Enviro-mentals & Ani-mentals: aiding the planet by their good attitudes.
TEVA TREE-HUGGER FAERIE
It was a fine, spring morning when Teva was left hidden in the needles of a giant fir tree. And it was the same fine morning that the youngster was discovered by a young doe. Encouraged to walk at a much earlier age than is normal for tree-hugger faeries, Teva stumbled after the doe to a small clearing surrounded by shimmering aspens.
“Rest now, child,” the doe said, “while I look for something to feed you.”
Teva snuggled down into the fallen leaves of the whispering trees and immediately fell into a deep sleep.
In slumber her dream carried her back to a time long past where she was shown generations of tree-faeries placing their young at the base of trees. And as the young quickly matured Teva saw that a symbiotic relationship had formed; the tree-hugger faeries, wrapping their arms around the tree trunks breathed their magical breaths onto the trees’ roots while the trees imparted their quiet strength to the faeries through their falling leaves.
Teva awoke with a start. How was she to fulfill her life’s work now that she’d been led far from the big fir?
By her side Teva saw that a small pile of berries, leaves and mushrooms had been placed. A few feet away the doe was watching her anxiously.
“Don’t be frightened, little one, the doe said. “My name is Daere and I mean you no harm.”
“I’m not afraid of you,” Teva exclaimed, surprised that she could speak. Then she remembered a gentle voice that had said to her, “Lie still and stay quiet, dear one. You will grow quickly for all the sustenance you need will be lavished on you in this state of quiet surrender,” and Teva realized that a speaking voice was as common among tree-hugger faeries as were three toes.
Teva had spoken the truth when she’d said she wasn’t afraid of Daere because it was obvious that such a beautiful, silken creature as Daere would never bring harm to anyone.
With soft, dark eyes, Daere glanced in the direction of the food she’d gathered.
“Eat now,” she encouraged with a nod.
Teva took one of the green leaves and found the new, fresh taste to be exquisite, and before she realized it she had eaten nearly everything set before her.
Her stomach full she would have liked nothing better than to pull the bright aspen leaves up close and fallen back to sleep but concern over her situation haunted her.
“Daere,” she pleaded, “you must lead me back to the fir tree. That is where
my destiny lies.”
Daere was quiet for sometime before she somberly replied, “There are those about who do not as yet realize their own potential and in their sleeplike state would try to stunt your growth with poison ideas. They could bring great harm to you through their ignorance. But once your full growth is attained they will be like minnows to you, their actions laughably harmless. Stay with me, Teva, for I believe all that happens is for a reason and that you and I were meant to meet.”
Feeling the truth of Daere’s words, Teva formed a soft pillow of leaves and fell fast asleep.
The next morning as rays of the new sun filtered through the nearly bare branches, Teva awoke. Instinctively she moved into the shade and as she did she stumbled over a garment make of fine, green yarn. Picking up the piece of clothing she saw that it was a pinafore made to her size. As she began to slip it on she heard a tiny squeal and saw a lady bug scurry across the bodice in search of a hiding place.
Teva studied the lady bug for a moment and then sensing its fear, said, “Don’t be afraid, little one, I mean you no harm,” just as Daere had once said to her. “I’m sure we’ve met for a reason.”
Clinging to the crocheted edging of the pinafore, the lady bug gave Teva a warm smile and replied in an accent suddenly familiar to Teva, “It’s glad I am that you see it that way, darlin’. Tis sure that I agree with me whole heart. You see, twas the bright green color that spoke me name, and bein’ a gal who lives by her instincts I came to investeegate. And by the by me name, according to me, is LB and that garment was special made for you by Sian one of the spider clan.”
Careful not to dislodge the lady bug, Teva pulled on the pinafore.
“Glad to make your acquaintance,” Teva said. And my name is….” For a moment Teva was at a loss but then suddenly, deep from within, a name bubbled to the surface. “And according to me, my name is Teva.”
“I figgered it ta be somethin’ like that,” LB stated.
“It’s a little cool here in the shade,” Teva explained, pulling the skirt of the pinafore down around her knees.
“Aye,” LB agreed, “but the warmth of friendship can dispel even the coldest chill.”
Throughout that day and into the next month, Teva was regaled by the stories of old, told in an ancient accent by LB. And nurtured by Daere’s kindness, it wasn’t long before Teva had absorbed all she needed to know to fulfill her mission.
It was a day of great celebration when Daere gave birth to twin fawns that like their mother were as beautiful within as without. It was also a day of great joy when Teva Tree-hugger Faerie left the haven of the clearing to spread light and strength to all in need. And perched on her pinafore, riding high and in great comfort, LB went along to help.
Ani-mentals and Enviro-mentals: aiding the planet by their good attitudes.
LEILA LIZARD FAERIE (ANI-MENTAL)
It was a rainy day; a day Leila Lizard chose to spend snuggled up inside her cozy house, rather than outside basking on top of the village’s large, white rock (an activity enjoyed not only by Leila but also by every lizard on the block).
While waiting for the sun to break through and chase the dark clouds back home to the north where they belonged, Leila began to daydream. First she dreamed of all the beauty in her world: the trees, the flowers, the sky and the rocks. The next picture to appear was of the little girl with braces on her legs who lived in the stone house a short distance from Lizard Glen. Of course the little girl in her daydream, like the little girl in real life, was attired in a lovely frilly dress made of a shiny fabric. And while the real little girl quietly played alone, never having the companionship of other children, she seemed content to converse with her dolls or watch the butterflies flit from flower to flower and the birds noisily splash in the gray bird bath. Leila thought about the little girl often and always anticipated her appearance on the brick patio of the stone house, anxious to see what beautiful outfit the child would wear next.
By the time the sun finally made an appearance it was mid-afternoon and having missed both breakfast and lunch, Leila was famished. But not so hungry she threw caution to the wind. Slowly she crept out from her home and looked around. Confident that the big, fluffy tabby was shut inside the stone house, Leila made her way to the garden in search of a meal. Seeing movement near the leaves of a young cabbage she was about to make her way to the vegetable when the door to the stone house banged open. Leila slipped in beside a large rosemary plant and watched as a girl with red cheeks and bouncing, brown curls ran out onto the patio. In her hand was a woven basket. Behind her the little girl who lived in the stone house broke free from her mother’s grasp and tried to catch up.
“Wait for me, Helen,” the little girl called as she stumbled after Helen.
When the little girl and her mother finally caught up with Helen they saw that Helen had dumped the basket on its side, spilling out two small dolls and an array of doll clothes.
The mother looked a perturbed by their guest’s wild behavior but instead of
scolding Helen she warned, “No rough housing; remember that Melinda was very sick.”
“I know,” Helen mumbled as she began folding the doll clothes.
“I’m fine, Mother,” Melinda insisted in an embarrassed whisper.
After a moment’s hesitation and a smile at her daughter, the mother returned to the house.
Leila, as still as the concrete statue decorating the bird bath, watched as the girls played dolls until suddenly Helen yelled, “I’m bored!” and scooping both hands full of doll clothes, she tossed them into the air.
Afraid of being discovered if she moved, Leila felt rather than saw something settle onto her back. And it wasn’t until the wind lifted one corner of the white object that she was aware that both girls, the basket, dolls and doll clothes were gone.
Now alone, Leila took the opportunity to inspect the thing covering her and realized that it was a white, knitted sun dress belonging to one of the dolls. Without a thought, Leila slipped the sun dress on and found that it was a perfect fit. She was so deliriously happy with the beautiful sun dress that she nearly forgot to eat. And as soon as she had eaten her fill, she climbed up the bird bath to look at her reflection. What she saw was so wonderful! So lovely! She felt like yelling with joy. Her entire life she’d known that since she couldn’t change her coloring like her neighbor Cary Chameleon,
she was surely meant to have beautiful clothes. It only seemed natural what with her love of beauty and the fact that she’d been born with beautiful green stripes (stripes that caused some of her neighbors to belittle her because she was different). But suddenly here she was, dressed like a princess.
Scampering down the pedestal of the bird bath she was careful not to snag her new sun dress. And on the way to her house she was careful to keep the hem up off the muddy ground. She was nearly home when a shrill whistle stopped her. Looking around she saw Gonwin. A pudgy lizard, Gonwin had long been the bully of the glen.
“Hey! Lizard girl!” Gonwin yelled. “Who are you supposed to be, wearing those fancy duds in this neighborhood?! Woo hoo! Wait ‘til I tell the rest of the glen about how silly you look!”
Suddenly embarrassed by her beautiful dress, Leila began to walk faster and didn’t stop again until she was safely locked inside her house.
“How foolish I’ve been,” she muttered to herself. “Why did I think I could be any different than the rest of my neighbors?”
Leila quickly slipped out of the sun dress and after carefully folding it she put it on a high shelf, out of sight.
That night Leila had a very bad dream. She dreamed that her beautiful stripes had disappeared and her skin was as common as those who had chastised her for not looking exactly like them. She dreamed that just as those same lizards began to treat her well, now that she did look more like them, her beautiful mane of hair suddenly turned blue and once again she became an outcast. It was a great relief when she awoke the next morning, dispelling the depressing dream.
Leila was still shaky from the nightmare but she managed to straighten her little house before going out for breakfast.
Upon entering the garden Leila heard crying and as she moved toward the sound she saw that Melinda, with tears streaming down her face, was sitting on her mother’s lap.
“Please let me go play at Helen’s house,” she sobbed.
“Melinda, darling, you’re a delicate child and I worry about you,” her mother said.
“But I’m well now and I never get to have any fun,” Melinda insisted.
Leila saw movement behind the open patio door and then Melinda’s father stepped onto the bricks. Gently he put his hand on his wife’s shoulder and gently he said to her, “Melinda is right, dear. It was a long time ago that Melinda was sick. Let the child be a child now. Let her do some of the things she wants. Let her have fun.”
Melinda’s mother was quiet for a moment and then she hugged Melinda and said to her, “I’ll go call Helen’s mother and tell her you can go to their house and play.”
Leila, with a smile on her face, watched as Melinda began clapping her hands with joy.
All the way home Leila thought about Melinda. And it wasn’t until she passed the white rock, and Gonwin called to her, that she remembered her own situation and the depressing dream. But this time, instead of hurrying home, Leila stopped and confronted the pudgy lizard.
“Don’t be making fun of others, Gonwin, or they might start making fun of you!” she declared.
“Oh yeah, smarty pants?! Or should I say, smarty dress? And what can you say about me?”
Although Leila had never spoken a bad word about or to anyone, she heard herself say, “I can warn you that if you don’t watch it with the knife and fork you’ll soon be mistaken for a komodo dragon instead of a lizard!”
“Wha…?” Gonwin began to bluster. “Hey! You can’t talk to me like that!”
“I can and I will if you don’t stop being so mean to everyone. It isn’t pleasant when people pick on you, is it? And if you don’t stop being a bully, soon everyone will start talking to you like that. So grow up, Gonwin!””
Leila left Gonwin with a shocked look on his face.
After facing up to the fear of ridicule, Leila experienced a new sense of herself that gave her the courage to do something that she really wanted to do.
Once inside her house she removed the sun dress from the shelf, slipped it on, combed her hair and hurried out the blueberry bush where she rubbed her hair onto the ripe berries until she was certain her hair was as blue as in her dream. Then, majestically she took a leisurely stroll through the glen, smiling and waving to all of her neighbors who, although somewhat shocked, smiled and waved back.
And so it was that the little girl who wanted to be like other little girls, and the lizard who wanted to be different, each got their way just because that’s what they wanted.
Whatever your heart desires, life will find a way to fulfill it.
Ani-mentals: they help the planet through their good attitudes.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Ani-mentals & Enviro-mentals: aiding the planet by their good attitudes.
Outside the little village of Spanglewood, hanging from the branches of a forty foot maple tree, was the home of Brina Bee.
The smallest creature imaginable at birth, Brina was one of many inhabitants of a very large hive. But due to a mist of fine, blue curls covering her head, and because of her diminutive size (a size she maintained even while others her age filled out and grew tall) Brina was deemed useless and unworthy to be a member in good standing of the bee clan.
Taunted by neighbors and relatives alike – some who went so far as to point their stingers at her in a menacing manner - Brina spent most of every day perched on a high limb, away from those who shunned her. It wasn’t that she was afraid of the swarm; after all they were her own kind. But her desire to distance herself came from the aching of a pain-filled heart.
Both of her parents tried very hard to console her, explaining that it was her differences that the rest of the hive couldn’t understand. But it was also her differences that made her special.
“Look at your father and I,” her mother said, “and your cousins and the neighbors. We’re all the same size and weight. Our coloring is an exact match to one another. Why I can barely tell your father from your uncle Aengus and Aengus is at least as old as dirt,” she joked. “But you, sweet Brina are petite, with shining soft locks. And one day you and everyone else will appreciate your inner beauty and goodness.”
“But it might be better,” her father added in an attempt to be helpful, “if you learn to sing as the rest of us do and forget all those high notes you stick in. Like this,” he said, a low buzz suddenly emanating from his chest.
“Yes, Father. Thank you,” Brina said politely as she hurried from the hive before her parents could see the tears forming.
Settling onto one of the lower branches of the forty foot tree, Brina watched as a shiny black carriage passed along the dirt road leading from the village. She watched as a shaggy, white dog trotted up and began sniffing the base of the tree, only to be chased away by her cousin Cadan, who returning from work tried to sting the pup on the nose.
Brina was appalled by cousin Cadan’s unkind act. But then remembering that he was one of those who would point his stinger at her when she attempted to fly with the group, she wasn’t surprised that he’d try to torture an innocent dog. And when she heard loud bickering coming from the hive, as one neighbor tried to outdo another by proclaiming he was responsible for providing more honey than anyone on his block (a wild exaggeration to say the least), Brina could tolerate her clan’s bad behavior no longer. Buzzing the tree as she got up to speed to take flight, she noticed several acres of wild flowers on the horizon. Brina made a beeline for the acreage and once there landed on the bright yellow blossom of a tomato plant.
As Wind rocked the blossom, the gentle movement calmed Brina and she began to sing one of her made-up songs about blue skies, white clouds and kindness for all. Lost in a musical world of her own making she was suddenly jolted back to earth when the tomato blossom said, “Hey, girl, that’s some snappy tune. But if you want to spread kindness like your song says, why don’t you help a feller out?”
Somewhat shaken, Brina answered quietly, “Okay, what can I do?”
“That’s the attitude, Toots; I like it when someone can make snap decisions,” Tomato Blossom said. “Well for starters, see that gangly mountain of green?”
Tomato Blossom tipped his petals toward an area strewn with rocks and overgrown with brambles.
“The tall red flower?” Brina asked.
Tomato Blossom tipped even further forcing Brina to dig her toes in or fall off.
“The big guy, the other tomato plant!” Tomato Blossom shouted.
“Oh, sure, I see him,” Brina said, finally locating the huge, green plant.
“Well, my friend has only a few blossoms, those brambles probably kept out too much water. Why he’d choose that crummy place to sprout is beyond me,” he muttered. “But I digress. I doubt the poor guy’s got much going for him under the circumstances and so far Wind has been in one heck of a rush to go south and hasn’t even touched my friend’s leaves. Now I’ve got me plenty of pollen which I will gladly share but it’s gonna take a third party to work the deal, know what I’m talkin’ about, here, Honeybunny?”
“I’ll help if I can,” Brina stated.
“Okay, here’s what you do, Chickie, you know how to dance, right?”
“Not really,” Brina confessed shyly.
“Well just start singin’ that song of yours and let your feet do the rest. But make sure your dance has plenty of snap to it and that you stamp your feet hard enough so that pollen comes loose and sticks to those…” Tomato Blossom looked her up and down, then said, “…dinky,…but cute, little legs of yours. Think you can do that?”
Brina blushed at the rare (but unusual) compliment.
Although never allowed to participate in hive activities, Brina had seen the dances performed by her relatives and neighbors when they mapped out the directions to blossoming gardens and flowering trees.
“I can do it easily,” Brina said proudly.
Singing and dancing her way around Tomato Blossom’s many blossoms, Brina gathered pollen until her legs felt like cement posts.
“Now,” Tomato Blossom said “fly over to my friend, land on one of the blossoms and boogie with all your might.”
The little bee did as she was told amid the giggles of the big tomato plant who screamed, “Stop it, kid, you’re tickling me!”
“Party hearty,” Tomato Blossom yelled at the top of his lungs.
Brina spent the rest of the day (under the direction of Tomato Blossom) spreading pollen from flower to flower and berry bush to berry bush. By late afternoon she was exhausted.
When she saw that Sun had traveled to Mountain and was about to slide down her bumpy back, Brina said breathlessly, “I have to go! My parents will be worried!”
“Sure, Sweetie Pie, but make sure you take some pollen to share with your hive,” Tomato Blossom said.
Brina traveled in tight circles around several blossoms until her legs were bright yellow with pollen.
“Think you can come back tomorrow?” a velvety, pink cosmo asked. “There’s lots of work to be done here, and you’re the only one that seems interested in doing it.”
“I’ll be back,” Brina promised with a smile.
As she flew back toward the forty foot tree, Tomato Blossom yelled after her, “Anybody ever tell you you’re cute as the dickens?”
Brina tipped her wings in appreciation of yet her second compliment of the day.
When Brina entered the hive she found her mother pacing the shiny wax corridor of their home.
“Brina, I’m so glad you’re okay! Your father and I were just about to come looking for you. We’ve spent the day in turmoil: something very bad has happened and it affects us all!”
“What is it? What’s wrong Mother?”
“It’s the human with the field of alfalfa. He has mowed down the whole lot early. Our supply is gone before we’ve had time to locate another. Without immediate nectar and pollen our hive is at serious risk.”
“But Mother, “ Brina said, “only a short distance from here there are acres of flowers, berries and blossoming plants and they could use us as much as we need them.”
“My dear Brina,” her mother sighed with relief, “you may have saved us all.”
And it was true, the tiny bee with the blue curls did save the hive; she guided them to the wild garden the next morning as Sun climbed up Mountain. This time the hive welcomed her help as well as her made-up songs, and within a week Brina’s queen had christened her the world’s first Bee Faerie.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Scream Once for Help - book excerpt:
“Betty!” she exclaimed, “I’m so glad you’re all right!”
“We’ve been worried sick!” Patience chimed in, and pulled herself up by her walker.
“Of course I’m all right! Where is that throw rug?” Betty demanded.
“I put it back by your bed,”
“Why did you do that?! I wanted Hank to see that it was right in front of the door!”
Then, as if realizing the mere fact of the rug being in front of the door didn’t prove that someone else had put it there, Betty’s eyes filled with tears.