Thursday, January 28, 2010

Witches' Ball -- A Different Kind of Fairy Tale

I based this story off a poem I wrote a while ago.  It was supposed to be for a project where an artist was going to draw images for me and it would be set on a background.  The artist sort of flaked out on me and I couldn't find someone else interested in doing pictures for it, so I thought I'd just post it and let people somewhere read it.  I hope it's enjoyable.  It morphed quite a bit from the original poem.

Come one, come all!

The annual Witches’ Ball will be held upon the final Friday of Fall
Please wear your best finery
And join us with your company

Gertrude sighed as she read the invitation that had arrived by spider post and sat down in her favorite chair. Just the thought of the annual ball was depressing enough. Remembering the ball of the previous year was enough to make her cringe in embarrassment. If that weren’t bad enough, the scrying glass that sat upon the table beside her reflected the entire mortifying events right before her eyes.

She’d arrived, dressed in her finest gown. Her friend Minerva had been with her and they’d been commenting on the usual things one noticed at the ball – what the others were wearing, the stuck up fairy godmothers in attendance, the handsome warlocks who stood on the sidelines drinking newt punch, and who might dance with whom. Things had been off to a wickedly delightful start.

Unfortunately, things began to take a turn for the worse when Phineas of Rothskill arrived. Every female eye turned to admire the handsome warlock. It made no difference if the female was a witch, fairy godmother, siren or sorceress. One and all set up a soft sigh as he strode past. He stopped at the table for some eye of newt juice and asked Gertrude, who just happened to be standing near the table, if it was any good. She’d smiled at him most winningly, and the other female eyes in the room turned green as they gazed upon her.

When Phineas asked her to dance, a group of fairy godmothers concocted a plan. While Gertrude was whirling about the dance floor, the fairy godmothers hastily hatched a plot to get the handsome warlock to themselves. They mixed a little potion and waited for their chance. As Gertrude was led from the dance floor by Phineas, one of them slid the drink into her hand. After the heated whirl and crush of the dance floor, Gertrude was only too happy to take the frothy drink. She took a long draught and began to feel a bit light-headed, but she thought it was only the heat and excitement.

She saw her friend Minerva from the sidelines. Minerva was probably the only one there at the ball that was happy for Gertrude. She had her eye on someone else, a shy wizard, so there was no competition from her. Phineas had led her outside and the cool air had helped a bit, but that was a brief respite.

As they’d reentered the festivities, someone had “accidentally” stepped on the hem of her gown. The black silk had ripped all the way up to her waist. Gertrude’s face had been mix of horror and embarrassment. Minerva had swooped in to assist her and they’d swept off to a private room. After several attempts, the dress had been magically mended and they went back down to the ball.

The next thing she knew, someone had tripped her and Gertie had not only broken the heel off her shoe, she’d also spilled a drink on another handsome warlock as well as a sultry siren. She mumbled an embarrassed apology and looked for the source of her humiliation, but there was nobody to be found. Minerva led her off to a corner where they spent another half hour trying to fix her shoe.

Twelve chimes sounded from a large clock, and Gertrude began to feel unwell. She found Phineas, surrounded by a bevy of fairy godmothers, and offered her apologies for leaving early. He smiled at her and promised to call on her soon. After that, she left with Minerva.

The next morning, she’d awoken to find that she’d been turned into a hag overnight. No longer did her raven tresses gleam. A giant wart had popped up on her nose. Hairy warts covered her hands and her skin had taken on a green tint.

Gertrude was horrified when she saw what she’d become. Even worse, Phineas came to call before he departed for home and she had to tell him she was indisposed. She wept bitter tears as she hid behind the curtains of her room and watched him depart. He lived far away and she knew it would be some time before she saw him again. As soon as he was gone, she sent for Minerva.

When Minerva arrived, she clucked and tutted over her friend. She inspected Gertie’s maladies and consulted her magical books. Finally, late that afternoon, she declared that Gertrude was the victim of fairy godmother magic. However, with time and careful spells, she believed it could be reversed.

Minerva mixed potions and creams and her instructions were followed to the letter. Gertrude’s recovery was slow, but it continued. Still, word of her malady soon traveled across the land. It was certainly helped to that end by the group of fairy godmothers who had given her the curse.

When word reached Phineas’ ear that Gertrude had fallen ill, he wrote her a letter and sent it to her, tied to the leg of his favorite hawk. Gertie’s heart soared when she read his words of concern. She penned a reply and sent it back.

Soon Gertrude was enjoying weekly correspondence with the warlock. The arrival of his letter was always the bright spot of her week. Slowly, Minerva’s potions and creams were doing their magic as well, although Gertie worried that they wouldn’t give her a full recovery. She worried that when Phineas saw her again, he would be disappointed.

Still, as the winter months drug by, a small kernel of hope sprouted in her heart and wouldn’t die. Phineas’ letters were constant and he seemed convinced of her beauty. Gertie was uncertain of her charm, but his letters were very ardent and persistent. He sent gifts and never mentioned the dastardly acts of the godmothers.

As spring solstice grew near, Phineas sent her a letter with a question. Would she be attending the sirens’ Spring Cotillion? He was hoping to make his way near the sea at that time and he had hopes of dancing with her if she was attending. Gertie’s stomach felt full of butterflies and bats. She desperately wanted to see him, but she was unsure about whether she’d be cured in a month.

Minerva waved a hand at her. She promised to do her best to make the potions do their work. Still, she reminded Gertrude that anyone who only cared about her looks was not worth so much fuss over. Gertie sighed and agreed. After brewing some potions, the two witches began plotting the dresses they would wear. Later that eve, Gertrude penned a reply to Phineas and told him that she’d be there.

A month later, Gertrude fretted the night before the dance. She paced her room and stared at her gown, made of violet silk and covered with gossamer spider webs. Her shoes were black with diamond buckles and pointy heels. Without a doubt, it was a dress finer than anything a fairy godmother had ever dreamed up. The dress alone would catch every wizard and warlock’s eye and still she worried that she wouldn’t be as fetching as Phineas of Rothskill remembered.

Still, the next day, she donned her gown and slipped on her shoes. She pulled out her broom and when Minerva arrived they set off to the festivities by the sea shore. The sirens were known for putting on a fĂȘte that rivaled the witches’ ball and most of the young people who practiced any sort of magic attended. As they arrived, it was easy to see that the soiree would prove to be memorable.

When they walked into the glittering cave of the siren’s dance hall a group of fairy godmothers gasped. They hadn’t expected to see Gertrude there and certainly not looking as rosy as she did instead of having a greenish tint. Many of the guests turned and gazed at her, surprised to see her looking so beautiful when they’d heard rumors that she’d been transformed for the worse.

Before she knew what was happening, Phineas appeared at her elbow, smiling a devilish smile and handing her a black rose. He offered his hand and led her to the dance floor. Minerva sighed and drifted off to find a dance partner of her own. The fairy godmothers began to whisper amongst themselves heatedly. Many turned and watched the couple glide across the floor.

As the party ended, Gertrude finally reluctantly went home, feeling as if the soles of her shoes might have worn off. She’d danced and laughed and feasted to her heart’s content. Phineas had spent most of his time with her and she felt giddy with relief. She felt silly that she’d worried at all, truth be told. As they parted, he promised that she’d hear from him very soon.

The spring bloomed into summer and Phineas continued to send her letters and come to visit her. Romance quickly blossomed between them and at Beltane he asked her to be his bride. Wedding plans were soon underway and they planned to have the nuptials on the day of the Witches’ Ball, to make the celebration more special.

Of course, when the fairy godmothers heard of the upcoming union, they became a bit green themselves and they began to plot. If they couldn’t have Phineas, they weren’t going to make it easy on Gertrude. However, Gertie and Minerva were on to them. They enchanted the punch and hors d’oeuvres so that anyone who spoke ill of the new bride would suffer a nasty surprise.

The day of the wedding and ball finally arrived and Gertrude was a radiant sight. She donned a white silk gown trimmed with white owl feathers and a veil spun from pixie dust. Their union was blessed and then the ball started. Magical folk from near and far had all arrived to attend the wedding and ball and no one wanted to miss it.
As the ball began, the godmothers gathered together, whispering to themselves and casting dark looks about. They began to spread gossip and soon many began to gaze at them in surprise. With every lie they told, their skin grew greener and hairy warts began to pop up on their arms. Wizards and warlocks began to give them a wide berth. Their tongues wagged for hours before they began to realize that something was amiss.

Gertrude and Phineas left at the witching hour, happy to share their lives together. Just as they departed, fairy godmothers began to gasp in shock. The Witches’ Ball had been fun for almost one and all, but those who tried to make trouble paid the price. It was spoken of for years to come as Gertrude and Phineas went on to live happily ever after.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I lived a happy life without you
In shades of grey

I was content on my own
With quiet silence

I kept to my own pace
Safe and slow

I had what I needed to survive
Bread and water

You came and disrupted my life
And I saw red

You interrupted my solitude
With your crazy songs

You drug me out on the track
To join the race

You added zest to things
I learned to taste

Could I go back to before
Without you here

There’s not a chance of that now
You’re much too dear

I didn’t know what I’d missed
Yet now I do

So I think I’ll stick to the fun
And stay with you

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Turkey Day

Opening the front door of my mother’s home, the smell of something burning assaulted my nostrils and made my eyes tear up. I wondered to myself what disaster the relatives had concocted this time as I coughed on my way into the kitchen. The exciting sight I saw there will come back to me every time I go home. It was our first feast as a blended family and it was memorable.

What I saw was a turkey coming out of the oven with flames shooting out. My stepbrother grabbed a fire extinguisher and before anyone could protest, he’d sprayed the bird with foam. I guess it didn’t occur to him that the bird might still be edible after the fire, but it certainly wasn’t after he attacked it with the extinguisher.

Pandemonium broke out. My uncle was there with his new camcorder and he gleefully recorded all the goings on. My mother began beating my stepbrother about the head and shoulders with the towel she’d grabbed to put out the fire. My aunt was screeching like a chicken with its head cut off. The smoke detector was blaring. I began to cough and wheeze, my asthma protesting against the smoke and the foam. Our young cousin began to cry. Mother’s face was a mask of shock, anger and disbelief. It didn’t take long for my cousins to begin teasing my mother and the jokes went on and on.

Eventually the clean up took place and the kitchen was restored to order. As the bird carcass was tossed in the trash, the jokesters realized that there was no main dish. There was no turkey, ham or roast beast. Worried looks began to be cast about the kitchen. It was a holiday and it wasn’t as if there would be a store open, and even if another turkey could be found, it would never be cooked in time. There would be no tight waistbands without a main course.

That’s when my stepdad came to the rescue. He descended into the basement and soon reemerged with a smile. I wondered what he’d done, but I had no clue. He announced that dinner would be served in half an hour.

Twenty minutes later, I was beginning to worry. My mother was trying to put on a brave face as she got the rest of the food ready and on the table. I knew how important it was to her to make a good impression on everyone with the meal, however. I saw no sign of whatever my stepfather’s plan was.

Five minutes later, he asked me to help him in the garage. I went out and was surprised to see that he’d set up his deep fryer and was cooking a wild turkey he’d shot that fall. He smiled as he entered the house carrying the golden bird. Then my cousin ran in front of him and the bird hit the floor. The pizza we ended up having turned out to be delicious.

Monday, January 18, 2010

In The Pink

I spied a flock of singing birds
And thought I’d join in
They were all canaries
I was a flamingo

I spied a bowl of citrus fruit
And thought I’d join in
They were all lemons
I was a raspberry

I spied a band of gleaming horns
And thought I’d join in
They were all trumpets
I was a pink guitar

I spied a bunch of pretty blooms
And thought I’d join in
They were all daffodils
I was a climbing rose

I sat alone and wondered why
I never quite fit in
Then you found me
We were alike

And I was tickled pink

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Matter Of Perspective

Inside the mouse hole, the conversation was going something like this…

“What do you mean you shrank us,” Brian hissed.

“It was a simple mistake,” Alduous replied. “If I can just recalibrate the parameters, we should be able to return to normal in just minutes.”

“Oh sure,” Brian sighed. “Perhaps you forgot that Mrs. Greenbaum’s cat wants to exterminate us before we can get back to the lab!”

“Well, if you hadn’t tormented the poor feline for the last year, I doubt she’d be so keen on dining on you,” Alduous retorted.

“Tormented,” Brian huffed.

“Yes, for example when you tied that lollipop to her tail,” Alduous reminded him.

“That was just in fun,” Brian retorted. “She understood that!”

“Of course she did,” Alduous agreed. “That’s why she’s out side that hole waiting to make an impeccable meal of you…”

Brian glowered at his friend. Alduous was full of great ideas, and if this one had worked the right way, they would have been too big for the local bullies to pick on them and Laura Miller would have noticed him. However, as it now stood, he was about to be a feline morsel instead of the apple of Laura’s eye. He hated it when things didn’t go according to plan.

“Well, if that’s all there is to it, then you go! I’m sure that old flea bag will love you,” Brian reasoned.

Alduous arched an eyebrow. “You’re forgetting that I have to get to the machine and recalibrate it, or we’re both going to be mouse-sized forever, for as long as that lasts.”

Brian sat down with a huff.

“Think of it this way,” Alduous explained. “When we get out of this and back to well, better than normal, you’ll be able to tell Laura about how you were the one who saved us.”

Brian puffed up at the thought. He stood up and went to look out. The tabby looked huge. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. He wiped sweat from his brow and then he was off.

“Here, kitty, kitty, kitty,” he called as he ran.

The cat was after him. Brian ran under the table and dodged between the chair legs with the cat in hot pursuit. Alduous ran the other way and into the other room. Brian hoped he was working fast. The cat ran around, watching him with her eyes.

Before he knew it, the cat had him pinned between her paws. He felt his throat tighten and his heart thumped in his chest. The cat’s nose came close to his head as she sniffed him.

“Be a nice kitty and just let me go,” Brian pleaded. “I promise I’ll treat you much better!”

The cat looked at him and then, to his surprise, let go.

“I’ve got it,” Aldous crowed.

The sound of the machine working carried to Brian’s ears. He breathed a sigh of relief. He’d already learned his lesson, though. You never know when you’ll be on the other side.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Behind Your Mask

You show the world a somber face

At times when you hold back
You don’t let them see the laughter
That I know you really have

You keep everyone at your arm’s length
Because you’re a little shy
You don’t see that if you let them close
They’d know your reasons why

Sometimes I wish you’d let them in
So they’d see how great you are
But other times I must admit
I like to keep you to myself

Don’t hide behind that mask you use
Show the world your face
Let them in on all your jokes
And they’ll like you for who you are

Don’t keep them all behind a wall
Let them come up close
Give it a try and let them know
How warm your embraces are

Remember when they strike at you
They’ll never cut you down
You stand above them all you see
Because you stand by me

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Love Fits In A Teacup

Mariel had a fleeting thought – I was duped -- as she walked down the aisle at the animal shelter. She’d gotten a postcard with a picture of two adorable kittens sleeping in tea cups at a fortuitous moment. Her long-time beau had moved out and after a week that felt like months she’d realized that he wouldn’t be coming back. It was really for the best, but coming home had become something she’d dreaded.

That postcard had come in the mail and it brought a realization with it. She loved animals but Pete had been allergic to them, so she’d lived without, even though her heart swelled when she’d get to hold a cute little kitten. This would be something that she could have that she’d denied herself for a long time.

Now she was having misgivings. There were no cute kittens in tea cups here. The woman at the front desk had informed her that there were several adult cats. Kittens would be abundant in the next few months but there were none there at the moment. Mariel didn’t want to wait, though. She needed a reason to come home every night now. So, they’d headed off to the cat barn.

She hadn’t been prepared for the walk though the dog kennel however. The racket when they’d stepped in had been deafening. After a few moments the din had died down and they started their walk through. Mariel told herself not to look. It was an impossible command to follow. She heard a soft whine and turned to see a speckled border collie gazing at her with eyes seemed too keen. She slowed her pace. Then she made eye contact with a dog that didn’t bother to get up. His black coat was dull and his eyes looked infinitely tired. It struck a chord with her. She couldn’t walk past. Before she knew what she was doing, she’d stopped and knelt in front of his cage. Her fingers wrapped through the wire. He thumped his tail on the floor once for her and he let out a sigh.

“The cats are just around the corner,” the woman told her. “Unless you’d like me to take him out for you…"

“Oh, of course,” Mariel answered as she straightened up.
They walked into the cat room. Surprisingly, there weren’t many cats there. Every one of them seemed completely indifferent to her. For some reason, the rejection brought stinging tears to her eyes. Was she that unlovable? She tried to swallow the lump in her throat. She couldn’t burst into tears here in front of a stranger. Her face grew hot with mortification.

“You know,” the woman suggested. “A lot of people these days find the right person at the dog park.”

Mariel blinked at the woman as she was startled out of her self-pity. Hearing the woman say it was almost like being given permission. She nodded at the woman and stood up.

She paused looking at the two dogs. She swallowed hard. How could she choose one? Words tumbled out of her mouth before she realized it.

“Do you think they would get along?” Her mouth formed the words without her permission.
“Actually, they were turned in together. The couple who had them divorced,” the woman told her.

The irony wasn’t lost on Mariel. It had to be meant to be. She signed the paperwork and walked out the door with two new reasons to come home, even if they didn’t fit into teacups.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Phoenix

I went up in flames
Scorched by my shames
Left a pile of ash
As my soul did dash

My life wasn't done
I returned to the sun
Had time to reflect
Upon my defect
Mistakes that I made
Would begin to fade
From most others' minds
Not so far from mine

Lessons I learned
I wouldn't be burned
Again from the past
This time it will last

I'll fly over Earth
Just watch my rebirth
I will rise again
From here I begin

So no looking back
Except to reflect
On what will be right
And now -- I take flight