Dreaming on Such a Winter’s Day

zebra unwinding

Image credit: Zulkarnain Ismail

William Blake knew he was in trouble when he saw the zebra unraveling like a ball of twine, especially since there shouldn’t be any free roaming zebras in the high desert southeast of Boise.

“Get a grip, get a grip, get a grip,” he muttered to himself, pressing his hands on each side of his head. The vision wouldn’t go away, but neither did the zebra seem to mind its condition.

“Of all days, why did it have to happen today?” Every New Year’s morning, the forty-eight-year-old electrical designer took a walk in the open fields south of his home, symbolically welcoming a year of new hope. “But I have to be at Edna’s in an hour for breakfast. I can’t go like this.”

The zebra moved on but then the clouds started turning themselves inside out, swirling and shifting from white to silver, then to magenta and turquoise. The grass around his ankles and then all across the field. writhed like serpents and rubbed against his legs like affectionate house cats, while the trees in the distance grew and expanded to Pellucidar-like proportions. Then the sky became granite and the ground turned to vapor, but neither did the atmosphere collapse upon him, nor did he fall through the mist.

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Húxiān

fox goddess

from Google Images – found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

Henry Dore ate lunch at the Hong Kong Clay Pot Restaurant in Chinatown everyday just to be near her. He didn’t know her name, and in fact, she was a complete stranger to him, but she was captivating in a way he couldn’t articulate, even to himself.

He had first seen her when he was having lunch with a visiting museum curator from Finland. As the Marketing Manager for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, one of his duties was to entertain VIPs, and he wanted to impress Inari Rinnetmäki, thinking that no Chinese restaurant in Helsinki could match up to the Clay Pot.

Now he couldn’t even remember Rinnetmäki’s response, and he couldn’t care less if she loved the cuisine here or hated it. Just as he and Inari had finished their meal, she walked in and was seated alone at a small table near theirs, which he had since learned was reserved for her every day at one. So today, he was passively sipping spoonfuls of Hot and Sour Soup, not noticing the flavor as he stole clandestine glances in her direction.

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The Moon God’s Consort

lunar

Photo credit: Luis Gonzalez Palma

Cavillance was ashamed. How could it come to be that a virgin could conceive and then bear a son? But she had been so hungry and the fruit looked so pleasing and succulent that she partook.

It was all a trick. The fruit was his seed, but whose seed was it? The virgin goddess gathered together the deities of the Incan people and cried out, “I demand that the father of my child show himself!”

The vast celestial amphitheater grew silent. Copacati, the lake goddess stifled a giggle. She was such a gossip and probably knew who the father was, but she’d never admit it.

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The Woman from Ogygia

gleneagles bar

Photo credit: MorgueFile 14228002011gx95

Gilberto Curry wandered into Gleneagles Bar, probably one of the more famous landmarks on Gozo, and sat at the nearest vacant table. He’d become bored with nearby Malta the minute he entered the airport gift shop and saw endless replicas of the cinema’s “Maltese Falcon.”

Sipping on his second beer of the day, he was surprised when a very beautiful and very drunk young woman sat in the chair opposite him.

“I hate every single one of you men.”

“Then why are you sitting with me?” No doubt her husband cheated on her or her boyfriend just came out as gay.

“You’re always running off, even when captured, the gods make you let them go back to their wives…uh wife. He only had one.”

“Well, if he was married…”

“I had twins by him. Think he ever came to visit, pay child support? Oh no. Bleeping Zeus wouldn’t have it.”

“Zeus? Who was your intended?” Gilberto was still sober enough to be curious.

“Odysseus. Seven years together and he never came back.”

“Lady, you must be really drunk if you think…”

“Calypso. I’m Calypso. Want to see my island? Maybe you could stay a year or two.

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2018: Week #12 challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 197.

I was able to make out the name Gleneagles Bar in the photo and found out it’s located on the island of Gozo which is the second largest island in the Malta archipelago (the first largest being Malta).

Gozo is associated with the island of Ogygia, home to the mythological nymph Calypso. She is said to have kidnapped the Greek hero Odysseus as recorded in Homer’s “Odyssey” and then held him against his will for seven years (some sources say five) because of her love of him. They eventually had sex and there are other legends stating she had either one or two children by him.

Eventually, Zeus made Calypso let Odysseus go so he could return to his wife, and the whole tale sounded worthy of the most schmaltzy country and western song. So I imaged an inconsolable Calypso still pining for her lost love (who she’s never seen or heard from ever since), drowning her sorrows in a bar on the 21st century version of her island while trying to pick up any man who will listen to her tale of woe.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Goddess Blesses

wildflowers

© Sue Vincent

Hadad took Ellil’s hand as they walked down the trail flanked by great fields of yellow wildflowers.

“It’s so pretty here, don’t you think, Hadad?” She squeezed his hand as she looked up at him. He turned his head and she could see his large, deep brown eyes. They looked so beautiful, so romantic.

“Yes, it’s very nice here.” He didn’t always know what to say to her although he was known as a “smooth operator” at school, or at least that’s what his friend Utu called him. He said he got the term from one of those old movies they show on TV late at night. Hadad thought Utu secretly pretended to be an American gangster from the 1940s instead of a fifteen-year-old culture geek too shy to even look at a girl.

He could hear the “crunch” of their footsteps on the gravel and sand as they walked nearer to the copse of trees ahead. Spring had begun only hours ago, but thanks to the Goddess, the world around them was green and growing with life.

“Did you really see them? I mean, you’re not just making it up, are you Hadad?”

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Haaninin’s Friend

crow

© Sue Vincent

For many years, Franklin Long took morning walks along the river. When he was young, his walks were runs, even in the winter when it snowed. As he got older, the runs slowed to walks. Finally, in his twilight years, he started using a long stick to support himself and he rarely walks alone anymore.

“What’s that over there, Grandpa?” Franklin’s youngest grandson, twelve-year-old Foster pointed away from the river bank, just a few hundred feet ahead of them.

“We must wait, Foster. This is a solemn ceremony.”

“But Grandpa, they’re birds.”

“No, Foster. They are crows.”

They both watched with interest, though Foster’s hands and feet were starting to get cold.

“There must be a hundred of them in that circle. Aren’t groups of crows called a ‘murder’?”

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Grandmother Spider

spider web

© Victor and Sarah Potter

“Grandfather, you let that creepy spider build her web in your kitchen?”

“Charlotte, don’t be unkind. Grandmother Spider is very important here.”

“But Grandfather, what if the spider tries to crawl on me?” The nine-year-old girl hadn’t visited Grandfather in years and didn’t remember spiders being in his house.

“She is very kind and keeps all manner of pests out of my house. Besides, she’s very old.”

“Will she die soon?”

“I hope not. She brings a very warm light into my house and into my world, just like you do. Now let’s see what we can make for dinner.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge for 12 January 2018 (although she put “2017” in the title). The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

The spider and vintage lighting fixtures reminded me both of an older person’s home and “house spider” myths. Supposedly, you’re not supposed to kill the house spider (though my wife has me do so on a regular basis), but a quick Google search didn’t yield any specifics. Finally, I looked up Spider Mythology and Folklore.

There are any number of legends that depict spiders in a positive light including this one:

Cherokee (Native American): A popular Cherokee tale credits Grandmother Spider with bringing light to the world. According to legend, in the early times everything was dark and no one could see at all because the sun was on the other side of the world. The animals agreed that someone must go and steal some light and bring the sun back so people could see. Possum and Buzzard both gave it a shot, but failed – and ended up with a burned tail and burned feathers, respectively. Finally, Grandmother Spider said she would try to capture the light. She made a bowl of clay, and using her eight legs, rolled it to where the sun sat, weaving a web as she traveled. Gently, she took the sun and placed it in the clay bowl, and rolled it home, following her web. She traveled from east to west, bringing light with her as she came, and brought the sun to the people.

The Hopi legends also attribute the creation of humanity to the Spider Woman and Sun god.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Troublesome Princess

princess in a tree

Created by Warwick Goble (1862-1943)

“I will not marry you, Prince Abo. Go away.”

“You cannot stay in your tree forever, Princess Yasuko. You are of age now and our parents betrothed us to each other in our seventh year.”

“I don’t care. You are a pig. I will stay in the Empress Tree until I die if you don’t go away.”

“Oh my dear Yasuko. I have called the wood-cutter. Look, he approaches.”

It was true. Tradition required that once they were bonded by the arrangement of both their parents, Yasuko must marry Abo upon reaching her eighteenth year. She had been dreading this day since her Mother the Queen gave her the news eleven years ago.

She had grown up with Abo and knew him all too well. He was pampered and spoiled, demanded that his every whim be catered to immediately. Worse, he was cruel to animals, catching birds only to deprive them of their feathers and then freeing them in the courtyard as helpless prey for the cats.

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The Raven Queen

snow white huntman queen

© Jeff Simpson

The Raven Queen was ancient, perhaps as old as the Flood of Noah or even older. She had possessed many names and many guises over the long millennia depending on which people she chose to bless or curse, their languages, traditions, and the like. She had her favorite identities so when apart from the places of men, she would adopt one that pleased her.

She was also very moody. She could create, deceive, protect whole nations, or murder Kings. It was just a matter of which side of the celestial and metaphorical bed she woke up on in any given age.

“What shall we do today, Kutkh?”

“Call me Ishmael,” the archetype perched upon her shoulder replied.

“You jest certainly. Quoting a work of man again? Melville won’t write that line for centuries.”

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Double Take

Gemini

A representation of the constellation Gemini

“Who are you?” Kas hated that the first thought that popped into his head when he answered the door had to do with looking into a mirror.

“May I come in?” The man looked exactly like Kas except for the clothes which were a hell of a lot more expensive than he could possibly afford.

“What do you want?” Kas had just moved from Newport News, Virginia to Seattle a month ago for a new job and he knew almost no one except a few people at work. He expected to spend Christmas alone but now he had to face it with his doppelgänger.

“My name is Pol. I promise I mean you no harm. I’ll only stay a minute, but I have some presents for you. May I come in please?”

Kas looked down at Pol’s gloved hands and saw he was holding two small wrapped boxes each with a tiny red bow on top.

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