Flying High – a flash

I saw her when we were flying. She was the most beautiful creature I had ever set eyes on, and everything else in the space went out of focus. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s true.

Her eyes, her legs, her stature. I wanted to be near her.

When her eyes caught mine, I knew she felt the connection too.

We never flew solo again. She was my whole world. We visited tropical areas, confined spaces, and frigid fields. Life was a whirlwind. We feasted on fruits and juice every day. We annoyed all those around us, and escaped harm on more than one occasion, but we were blissfully happy together.

That is, until that bleak day that lasted an eternity. We landed in the frigid fields to feast upon some round sweet fruit, but it turned into our prison. We were neither of us prepared to last so long in those extreme temperatures. We tried to escape, but every exit was closed. We tried to sustain ourselves on the juices of the wild, but the chill became too much.

We laid down to rest together, touching each other for warmth, for security, but we knew the truth. This was our end.

Our eyes darkened, and the life eked out of us. Still, we touched each other and knew we had led a life worth living for two such as us.

It was in those final moments, our prison opened up, and we heard, “Eww! Mom! How did two flies get in the fridge?”

Then there was nothingness.

The Dragon Room

I entered the Yeah Write Super Challenge #4 this year. There’s so far been 2 rounds to this event, and I’ve successfully moved forward on both rounds. I thought I might share the round 2 piece here, since I’ve been quiet the past few months. 

Group 1

Scene: An arched corridor

Event: learning a nonviolent skill

Summary: Custodial apprentice, Pip, sees his clumsiness landing him in so much trouble that he is led into the castle dungeons. Down there a room awaits him, a dragon room, filled with nothing but stone and obsidium to keep him company, and maybe a few dragon eggs.

_________________

The arched hallway of the castle dungeons was much darker than Pip had imagined. The stone path was cold and coarse beneath his bare feet.

“Wh-what are we doing down h–ow!” he asked as his toes caught on a gap, causing him to stumble forward.

His heart raced, and sweat beads formed on his pasty skin.

No one has ever entered the dungeon before and come out alive!

“This is your fault,” Gregory harrumphed. The castle caretaker and master custodian pushed his way past the young man.

Pip sighed. He knew the old man was right.

The castle halls had not been the same since Pip received the custodial assignment at this year’s Naming Day. He remembered the trials – success judged by a series of events. Turned out, his skinny frame and tiny hands were ill-suited for sword-wielding, his archery skills were non-existent, and his attempts at magicka had disastrous consequences.

He knew he was rather unremarkable in almost every way.

“Did you have to spill the king’s chamber pot on Queen Symphonia’s baby gryphon?” Gregory stopped in front of a large double door.

Pip straightened himself; tears filled his eyes, “Please, don’t lock me away.”

Gregory chuckled, “Oh, dear boy, what kind of kingdom would this be if we locked every clumsy apprentice into a cell?”

“Bu-.”

Gregory shook his head and reached for the metal rings of the door.

“We can’t have you getting clawed to death by an angry gryphon, now can we?” Gregory pulled the doors open and exposed a large chamber with oval stonework covering the floor.

Pip squinted and cocked his head to the side.

“When I was young and nervous like you, the king sent me down here to work. There is naught but stone and obsidian.”

“Nothing to break?” Pip asked nervously.

Gregory shook his head, “And no one to harm.”

He gestured Pip inside, but the frightened young man hesitated. What if it’s all a trick?

“There are no locks on the door, boy,” Gregory sighed.

Pip swallowed, nodded, and stepped forward. “What is this place?”

“The chambers of the great dragon the first king slew two hundred years ago.”

Pip followed Gregory inside and put his hand on top of one of the oval statues. “Ow- It’s hot!”

“Obsidian,” Gregory said. “It retains heat.”

“What are they supposed to be?”

“Dragon eggs,” Gregory shrugged his shoulders, “or so I’ve been told, but never mind that fairy tale.”

Gregory handed Pip a thin cloth.

“The king. He asked for you to polish these dragon eggs.”

Pip raised his eyebrows, “Really?”

The caretaker narrowed his gaze, “It took me years to master. It’s far more complicated than it sounds.”

Pip watched as Gregory showed his expert skill. The motion of his polishing was methodical and unlike polishing a table or benchtop. Pip tried to understand it, but as he followed along with the master custodian, he saw dust and dirt reform on his egg while Gregory’s remained spotless. He couldn’t ever imagine being able to match that skill.

*****

For months, Pip practiced and practiced. He languished over the eggs. With every passing day, he talked to them, sometimes without even speaking, and from time-to-time, he thought he heard them talk back. He dismissed it as nothing more than loneliness. There were often voices in the corridor outside the chamber, so it could have just as well been that which he was hearing.

One afternoon, nearly three months after his assignment began, Pip heard the familiar voices again. Two men must have been in the halls, and for the first time, he listened.

“Your brother, the king,” he heard, “he knows something.”

“Nothing that he’ll be able to stop now. The unicorn horn has already been added to his stew for tonight. He’ll be eating it within minutes,” another voice said. His hushed laugh made the hairs on Pip’s neck stand up.

Unicorn horn! But it’s poisonous. If he eats that-

Pip backed up and fell backwards with an oomph.

“What’s that?” he heard. The door slowly opened, and Pip scrambled to hide behind an egg. His hands touched the obsidian, and he cried.

Please don’t let me die!

A crack appeared across the egg. The sound of shattering glass echoed through the chamber.

The Earl stood in the doorway with a disbelieving look on his face as each of the eggs burst open. Whelplings. Hundreds of them burst forth and circled the diminutive Pip.

With a shriek, he sprinted down the halls of the dungeon, up the stairs of the castle, and into the king’s sitting room only just scrambling past the guards.

The king was lifting a spoon to his mouth. Pip screamed and dove at him.

“Unicorn horn!” he cried pushing the king’s hand.

Outside screams and a flurry of wings echoed through the castle halls. The man pushed through the dining hall door narrowly missing the fiery breath of the tiny dragons. Despite the chaos, the king remained resolute in his chair.

“This man tried to poison you,” the whelplings cried in unison. “Pip told us.”

Pip gasped at the words, at their meaning. They understood him. Every thought, every word, every emotion. The connection was real.

“Thank you, dear boy,” the king said. “You confirmed what I had already suspected and saved the kingdom.”

The little dragons swarmed into the room and surrounded Pip. The would-be assassin struggled against the strong embrace of the castle guards. The king stood up and patted Pip on the shoulder, “Oh, you unremarkable boy. You broke their sleep and have bonded with the dragons. Just as I knew you would.”

Pip squinted at the king, “Wha-?”

“You’re the third born in the third generation of dragon masters.”

The whelplings sang, “Master, protector, friend.”

Pip’s eyes grew wide, and a smile spread across his face. Their joy was his joy, and suddenly for the first time in his life, he understood his place in the world.

The Music

Light shines into my charred room and illuminates one tiny patch of unblemished floor. songSomewhere, in the background, a piano plays Rachminoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” – both melancholy and sanguine. All those enchanting chords bounce off the barren four-walled space and remind me something is waiting for me outside. Hope. I touch the light. I feel it’s warmth on my hand. I let a smile spread across my face.

Someone, somewhere, believes in me. I need to believe in me too.

A cloud covers the light, and I’m plunged back into darkness. Stepping into the corner, I touch the walls. Fire has scorched the room. My fire. Anger over my inadequacy will never diminish. I’m in a prison of my own making. The music swells but is swallowed by blackened wood. Faint traces of “Stairway to Heaven” reach my ears and fade.

I will never amount to anything.

I crouch into the corner and tremble. When will this end? I think of all the times I have tried to escape my fate. I am reminded of all the times I failed in some way. I have spent the better part of my adult life being told “You’re so smart. You’ll go places.”, but that hasn’t happened yet. Am I meant to be a permanent reminder to all? You can work hard and do everything in your power to get ahead in life but “in the end, it is about who you know and not what you know.” I have had opportunities to achieve my dreams, and every time I have lost. I’m a failure. Maybe it’s time to give up on moving up?

The clouds fade away, and the light returns. It shines into the other three edges of my self-made cell and touches my toes, my fingers. The tempo changes. It’s a full orchestra – it’s a choir – it’s Mozart’s “Requiem in D Minor”.

“You got the job!” I hear over the throng.

Success. I have finally reached the success I’ve craved.

The warmth tries to envelope me, but I inch further into the adjoining walls. I stand rigid as the light creeps closer. It tries to cover me whole, but I won’t let it, shrinking further into that dark recess. Why is my fear and anger of inadequacy still here? Why does it dominate so? I want to be happy.

I want to be happy.

(Feature image source)

Celebrations

Source

Admire someone else’s beauty without questioning your own.

Something about this line sent me reeling this week. I have hardly slept. I spent some of my nights pondering the implications. There’s so much more to the words – something more than the sum of all its parts.

How much of my life do I spend comparing?

Is there a single area where I am content with my own beauty?

Short answer: No. 

But more than that, I start to think about the conversations I have with friends and family from time to time. More than not, our lives are spent comparing.

“You’re such a stronger person than I am.”

“I wish I had abs like hers.”

“Why can’t I lose weight as well as he does?”

“I want to be as good a writer as you.”

Worse than that, some of these conversations do even more than acknowledge other people’s beauty over our own. Some of it is belittling their own self-worth. I do this. A lot. “Oh! I know I’ve gotten Editor’s Pick more than once, but I’ve still never had a paid publication. I must be a shit writer, then.” “Oh! I know I lost 10% of my weight, but none of it matters yet because I can’t fit into those pants yet.”

So last night, I consider the possibility that maybe it’s time to change my thinking. That perhaps part of the reason I have been so unhappy is because I can’t look at my own beauty. In fact, I avoid taking pictures of my face as much as possible.

Case in point

I know there is some there. I need only ask my friends and family to look at an image, and they are always there to pick me back up. To encourage me. To say what it is I need to hear to feel less unworthy of their words. But truth is, I don’t hear the words. I only hear my own voice saying how pathetic it is I need validation.

But there is truth in what they say, and it’s time I embrace those things first. It’s time we all embrace and celebrate our beauty! So I thought I’d start this off by naming three things I know are alright about me. Then I’d encourage everyone to do the same, because we all need a little more self-worth. For the next week, I’m going to focus on these things. First. Then see if maybe it changes the way I feel.

I can see my beauty. 

I have great passion, sometimes to a fault. Plenty of people have learned this the hard way.  “Arwen was never at the Ford of Bruinen! It was Frodo alone who stood up to the Nazgul and screamed, ‘You shall have neither the Ring nor me!'” (I may or may not raise my fist in the air as I finish my tirade.) When I’m focused and passionate about anything, I grit my teeth and make it happen. In fact, I recently won the very first thing I’ve ever won before – an 8 week challenge. See! I have a trophy to prove it. And a cute tiara. Because every girl wants a tiara?

I have a great smile. Let’s leave my face out of this, but my smile. I know it’s pretty good. I randomly smile at complete strangers to try and cheer up their day. I know. Lame. But awesome. But mostly lame. I especially like it when I can see a barista or shop clerk who looks a bit flustered and under the pump. I flash them my pearly whites (okay, they’re really cream-colored) and like to see their face light up when they smile back. Again, lame, but mostly awesome, right? Right!? (Insert required validation comment here.)

Lastly I’m super encouraging. No idea why. I like to see people succeed. Whether that be by helping people with their resume or prepare for an interview or beta read their pieces. I love helping others reach or strive for their potential. I do it in almost all aspects of my “social” life from writing groups to work colleagues to exercise buddies.

Embracing my beauty

This is not my usual writing style. In fact, I am normally never this blunt. I don’t intend to make a habit of it, because, for one, it’s exhausting. Maybe by doing this, though, it will break me out of what ever it is causing me to not write lately, and it might encourage some of my friends to do the same.

Nighttime Musings

Source

“Life,” he mutters. 
His eyes reflect the twinkle of the night sky as their barrel of fire crackles. 

The sounds of the bridge above drown his ramblings. Still, he continues, “How unlikely our life is in the universe, yet here we are.”