Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Pursuit, Chapter Three

Only two hours passed before she heard his footsteps on the rocks outside her cave. She covered her eyes with her hands. “Go away. Please.”

He stopped just outside the cave. She peeked from behind her hands and saw tall, black boots.

“What are you afraid of?” His voice was gentle but determined. Somehow, she knew that he wouldn't leave until she had answered him.

She released a deep sigh. She didn't want to tell him. “Afraid of everything. Everything but my cave.”

Then he bent by the opening, reached inside, took her hands in his, and pulled her out. She resisted, but he was stronger than her.

She wrenched away. “Let me alone! I cant take care of myself.” But she knew she couldn't. And he knew it too.

He sat her on a rock and took out the Key. Once again, he held it out to her. “Go ahead. Take it.” His smile was encouraging, like the sunlight bursting over a gloomy morning, bringing it to life.

With fingers that weren't her own, she reached for the Key. This time she would take it. She would. The very tip of her finger touched the Key, and the chains groaned. As they began to coil about her feet, she jerked back, shaking her head.

Her visitor sighed, then looked into her eyes with nothing but kindness. “Allow me to help you, daughter.”

She watched in fascination as he knelt by her feet. Inserted the Key in the lock. Turned it. She heard a click.

And the chains fell away. She expected them to resist, but they held no power against the Key. They rattled down the rocky slope and splashed into the sea.

He stood, smile widening. “Now you can dance. Come on!”

“But...” She faltered. “I can't. It's too dangerous. I can't risk it...”

He grabbed her hand and enfolded it in his. “I can't promise there won't be danger, sweetheart. But I can promise you this: I will be right beside you. I will protect you.”

She looked up at him, hope stirring in her heart. “Truly?”


They left the cave behind and walked into the sunlight. At long last, she would dance, free as the falcon. But she wouldn't be alone. He would hold her hand.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Pursuit, Chapter Two

The next day she watched them again. She had crept from her lonely hole where she had slept last night, ignored and alone. In one way, she wanted to be alone. To protect herself. The creatures would kill her.

But what great things are accomplished without danger? All she knew was that whenever she stepped into the open, away from the towering protection of the brick wall that kept her invisible, fear overcame her until she could not breathe, could not move.

She kept her shield up, ready for danger.

Suddenly she felt, rather than heard, a presence behind her. A sharp tingle shivered up her spine, and she couldn't move. Like in a dream, her body refused to turn, to see who or what was behind her.

Mist swirled through the dank alley, and at last her feet freed themselves. She whirled around and blinked, trying to see. A tall figure towered over her, his features indistinguishable through the mist. “Who are you and what do you want?” she asked suspiciously. “I don't know you.”

He extended his hand, silently, toward her.

And her heart stilled at what she saw dangling from his fingers.

The Key.

“Take it,” he said. A deep, soothing voice.

The key to unlock her chains! She longed for that key with everything in her. She wanted to obey the invitation he had given her. So badly.

A sob welled in her throat. She couldn't take it. She started to lift her hand to grasp the keys, dangling before her. But they were just beyond her reach. Could she take a step forward? Could she?


Fear held her back. It paralyzed her. And the chains tightened, tighter than they had ever been before. Pain sprang through her ankles and radiated up her legs. As if the chains knew freedom was close, so close...

“Don't give up,” he said, leaning toward her. He held the Key out further.

“It's too late for me!” she cried in desperation. Then she ran. Away from there. Away to her hole. Her cold, lonely hole, but at least she was safe there. Sort of.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Pursuit

This is the first chapter of a three-part story I wrote last Thanksgiving.

Chapter One
Dangerous Territory

She lurked on the sidelines, watching from behind a ready shield as the hordes milled, their slavering growls bouncing off the thick log walls. They gorged themselves with raw meat and spilled red in sloshing puddles on the bowed plank floor. And she watched, waiting in tense silence, afraid to speak, afraid to breathe.

For many years she had lived in fear, and she had carried her shield. And she had waited for the day when the chains would fall off and freedom would reign.

She shifted slightly, and her ankle chains grated against the brick wall. Fear jolted through her like an electric pulse. She shuddered. The barbarians halted in mid-shuffle and swung their ponderous heads toward her, drool dripping from their slavering jaws. Their teeth, instead of being stained a dark, horrible scratched brown, were instead a sparkling white, gleaming and beautiful. Or they would have been beautiful if not for their long, curved sharpness. She knew those teeth would devour her if her chains rattled again. She trembled.

They stared unblinking, eyes a thunderous, ravaging red. Then, with hulking shoulders rolling, they thundered into their weird dance again. The steps she did not know. Nor was she likely to ever know. Once she had wanted to know how to dance their dances.

But that was before the chains.

Before the beautiful, graceful and strong creatures transformed, slowly, before her eyes, into horrendous creatures that she feared worse than death itself.

She silently cursed the chains.

If not for the chains, she would be dancing with them. And instead of the slavering growls and matted fur, they would have been white, pure and shining, with strength to protect instead of tear down, and instead of red eyes that sent terror winging through her, their eyes would have been warm and kind, inviting her to join them. And she would have. And danced as freely as a bird dancing in the sky.

Soaring and swooping like the wild falcon.

She leaned forward in her eagerness.

The chains tightened around her ankles, unwilling to release their deadly grip upon her. They controlled her, and fear rode her like one riding a wild horse, forcing it into submission. A tear slid from her eye and slipped down her cheek. She turned, and tramped away into the night. As she slogged through the driving rain and chilly mud, cold and miserable, she knew. She knew the chains, clanking around her ankles and restricting her step, would someday overcome her.

Until she could not walk at all. And then, how would she ever be free? How? How?


Friday, November 6, 2015

A Pirate's Life

Arr Mates, a Pirate’s life fer me!
A jolly life of Rum and Gold
A carefree life with naught but Greed.
A scoundrel’s life upon the Sea!

Aye! Thar she be, the life fer me!
The cannon’s Roar, the Battle Cry
Waves and Gale, me spirits high!

Who cares if naught but Hell awaits,
To greet me roguish Soul at last?
I'll plunge ter Hell with a bottle o' Rum,
I'll sink wit' a cannon Blast!

Drink to ever sail the Seas!
Drink to Mirth an’ Cheer!
Drink to Fights and Brawls and Death!
Drink to what ye please!

My smoking Pistol brandish'd high,
I mock the Death awaits!
A Pirate’s life forever mine!
Death to all ye Mates!

Me bloody Cutlass slashing wide,
I scorn the Gallows Noose!
Ever ye try to hang me--
The Fires o' Hell set loose!

Arr, when I’ve made me Fortune,
When I’m rich, me Eye!
I’ll stomp about on me wooden Leg
Me head I’ll carry high!

Fer, once a Pirate, I’ll ever be
An’ best ter show it off!
A Lubber’s life is naught but Toil,
At such a life I scoff!

Aye, a Pirate’s life fer me I say!
Great Treasures be all mine
A bottle o’ Rum to cheer me Heart,
Dare not to say me Nay!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Cliff

We’re all rock climbers
Scaling this crag
Weary and bruised

A return
To the base of this cliff
Would be safer
But deep down inside
Our longing is greater
For the top of this cliff

I’m climbing

It’s tough
So very tough
But I know that the view
At the top will be more
Than I ever dared dream
Keep climbing

Muscles burn

Aching fingers
And I fall again
Wanna give up
Keep climbing

When I fall from the rocks

I beat myself up
‘Till I’m too sore to climb

Sometimes it seems I

Won’t reach the top
Keep climbing

Some days I

Don’t even care
Don’t even try
To climb

‘Cause it’s too hard

Crawling back up

Keep climbing

‘Cause if I give up
I’ll lose
They tell me I’m stubborn

Climb again
Fall again
Strength giving out
Maybe this time
I’ll win

Gotta keep climbing

Failure looks me

Straight in the eye
Haunts me
Every glance up
Keep climbing

I’m seeing mirages

I tell myself
But they aren’t
So quickly ignored
Keep climbing

Gotta keep climbing

‘Cause one day
You know what?
I’ll reach the top

When I glance up

This time

I won’t see mirages

Won’t give up this time
I won’t lie there at night
Losing my hope
Vowing to reach
The top next climb…

‘Cause I kept climbing, climbing

Didn’t give up
When it got rough
So rough…

Gotta remember

I’m not alone
Not climbing alone

‘Cause if you fall

Fall enough times
You’ll recall what they told you
Those who went first

‘You don’t wanna go solo

‘Cause tough doesn’t last
Not so strong as you think
And solo is lonely
Dude, solo is lonely’
Keep climbing

If I keep climbing

I’ll get better at this
Stronger and faster
Inch by inch

Sometimes I think

The going’s too rough
Way too rough
And it gets hard
So hard that I
Can’t go on

And I’m dangling

Here by a thread
A thread on the face of this cliff

I’m tired

So tired
Tired of waiting
Tired of fighting

The cliff goes forever

Into the sky
I can’t see the top
Can’t see the bottom
Thousands of feet loom
Between me and the ground
Between me and the top

I’m dizzy

I’m bruised
I’m not as strong as I used
To think that I was
Nails bleeding from clinging
To the face of this cliff

I want to give up

But deep down inside
I know
I’m not alone

Deep down inside

I know
That it never will be
Too tough
For me to scale

When climbing gets tough

I tend to forget
Why I am climbing
I do

I guess when you’re there

The rocks scraping your skin
The cliff seems all
There is in the world
So huge that it’s all you can see

You can’t remember

Don’t even remember
That there’s even a top
To reach

Gotta remember

There is

One day, one day

I’ll crawl up onto
The top of that cliff
Scaled it at last
And go onward

And that cliff

That cliff will be nothing
But a distant

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Ladye and the Knight

This is a short story I wrote last year.

'I don't want a knight in shining armor. I want a knight in dinged-up, seen-its-better-days armor. That way I know he's battled my dragons on his way to me.' --Author Unknown

There once was a maiden from a very poor family, but one day she discovered a great chest of jewels and became the richest person in the land. And then many suitors came seeking her hand in marriage, but she knew they only wanted her money.

One day, when she was walking in the forest, a wild beast attacked her. But a knight in shining armor came at the last minute and slayed the beast, saving her life. Then he went down on one knee and begged her to marry him. She refused, thinking he wanted her fortune. The knight went away sadly.

After three months of suitors coming from all the faraway kingdoms, which she all turned away, she began to despair. Would she never come across a man who wanted to marry her because he loved her, not because of her money?

That night, she hatched a plan to stop the flood of insincere suitors. Taking her large chest of jewels, she dumped it into the lake.

The next day when suitors came calling, she showed them the empty chest. They did not believe her when she told them that she had thrown away her fortune. So she showed them the gold, sinking into the silt at the bottom of her lake. At first, they wanted to salvage it, but over time the treasure sank so deeply beneath the mud that it would take incredible efforts to bring it to the surface. And never, she declared, would that treasure be brought up!

Finally, when they realized the treasure would never be theirs, the suitors slowed to a trickle and at last disappeared completely. For two years, she was alone.

But she was sad, for she wished a man would come who loved her, even though she had no more treasure.

One day, she heard the pounding of hoofbeats coming to the castle. Going out onto the ramparts, she beheld a sight she had not seen for two years. A knight approaching.

He rode a war-horse. His armor was dull and and dented and dirty, no longer shiny as it must have once been. He looked weary and battle-worn; his face was caked with dust. He came to a stop and looked up at her. “Do you remember me?” he asked.

"I do not," she replied.

"Do you remember the knight who killed the wild beast in the forest two years ago?"

"I do," she said with a smile. "He wore such shining armor."

"I am that knight," said he.

She shook her head in disbelief. "Can it be? Where have you been these years?

"I wish to tell you a story," he said.

"I have plenty of time, sir, tell away."

"Once there was a poor knight," he began. "And he loved a fair lady who was also poor. But that mattered not to him. He planned to ask her to marry him. The day he went to ask her, he found her in the forest in danger and he killed the bear that was threatening her life."

But when he asked her to marry him, she refused. He learned that she had just come into a great fortune, and believed every man who wished to marry her wanted the money. As she walked away, he knew he had come too late.

But how to prove his love for her? He rode away to war and traveled for two years, trying to find the answer.

And after two long years, he found what he sought. And he rode home to find his lady.”

She was touched by his tale, but she must be sure his love was true. “My great fortune is gone,” she said. “I flung it into the lake, for I wished to find a man who cared for me, not my money.”

"Are you now married?" he asked.

"Nay, for the suitors were all false, and they have stopped coming."

His smile was like the sun. “I am glad to hear that you have lost that cursed fortune,” he said.

She hardly dared to hope that here before her stood a knight who loved her true, who had traveled for two years to find a way to prove it. “Indeed?”

"Aye, for it stood between us," he said.

"Perhaps you think to dig it from the lake," she said, to test him, watching his expression.

"Never," he said. "Let it lie there forever. I hate that gold." Then he took from his horse saddlebags filled with coins. "Over my travels, fair lady, I have gained a treasure larger than the one in the lake. I have no need to marry for money." He knelt on the ground below, looking up at her. "I would marry for love."

She leaned over the rampart. “Would you not suspect me of marrying you for your money, sir?”

"Nay," he said. "For I give half this treasure to you. We neither of us need marry for money."

She came down from the ramparts and out the gate and they looked into each other’s eyes. Then she gave him her hand, and he took it. “I have waited so long for you to come,” she said with tears. 

"So have I," he said.