“You got that totally wrong. Hate is… well, I understand Trump. Same thing, isn’t it?” Tuck tucked a digit into the collar of his tight white shirt. Under the kleig lights, he became uncomfortably aware of his conscience. He recovered.
Hate is love. Was it Ayn Rand, one of her essays? A review of some book that Kevin Baby recommended? 1984, that was it.
Whatever. The ratings are waiting. “Now what I really hate, wokeness. Banking libs take their eyes off the ball…”
Before we go to the zoo, I memorize butterfly names from the books in my grandfather’s library. Tiger swallowtails, yellow and black, their wings majestic as they take flight from an aspen tree. Migrating monarchs drink from lupines.
Xerces blues exist only on paper, their permanent home on page 27, “Insects of San Francisco .” I slip the book back on the shelf and wish that someone had rescued the blues.
My grandfather is ready to cycle with me to the tram. He wears a kerchief over his nose to block the dust. “Used to be they lived in my fields.”
A week after my mom was buried, my friend, Agnes, started to resemble her. At first, it was just the nose. Then the eyes, including a dramatic change from brown to blue. Agnes grew wrinkled and unreasonable. She started arguments. I ghosted her and mourned the loss of my best friend.
One day, I picked up Agnes’s photo and did a double take. She pixelated into my mother. Then the pixels reverted to the original. Mesmerized, I watched the picture magic from one to the other until I couldn’t tell them apart. I wish I could let my mother go.
The last postcard I sent to my mother came back labeled, “Attempted- Not Known.” My fault. I left off all but the G in Georgetown, Texas. No zip code. Maybe it was a premonition that stopped my hand. The date of return was the day she died.
“Love you,” is all I was trying to say. Would she even have heard the aide read the two words? She hadn’t responded to my daily postcards. Maybe the message was lost to her in the haze of last days, not in the post office where someone shrugged, unable to deliver the undeliverable.
I lived in Wales where Arthur dwelled before England took him for their king. His favorite hunting dog, I was. All that’s left is a print of my paw cast in stone atop a cairn. Maybe you have the strength and courage to climb the craggy peaks of Cam Gafallt. Look but don’t take. The rock finds its way back from those who steal it.
So many things the English took from Wales- stories, language- as if defeat could erase our spirit. My paw print will never disappear from Cam Gafallt, nor will our people’s differences hide behind a common culture.
The witness took her seat and told the court the terrible truth about the defendant, Mr. Rumplestiltskin. “So, he wouldn’t give me his name. I was desperate. He would save my life for a necklace. The next time, it was a ring. The third time, my first born child. I agreed each time, but when the baby came… I couldn’t give her up.”
“I found Rumplestiltskin online with an image search. There’s hundreds of victims. A baby selling business, he trafficked alchemists. Your honor, Rumplestiltskin is an evil man who preys on others’ misfortune. Make him pay for his crimes.”
I, the Talking Bird, saw the story unfold. Innocent children abandoned to die, then saved. Lying sisters who ordered them set afloat like baby Moses. The foolish Sultan who believed the Queen Consort’s scheming sisters and cast her out.
I left the palace for a high mountain where I resided with the Singing Tree and the Golden Water. A dervish warned off visitors. Only the sweet Queen’s daughter was clever enough to bring us home.
Once there, I told the shame-faced Sultan of his injustice to his Queen.
When Scheherazade told the tale to her sultan, did he have regrets?
“The demon lurks around the corner, under the house, under the bed. If you sleep, little one, she will drive you mad.”
“What’s mad.” The tiny child jingled coins rhythmically in a red envelope. The metallic noise soothed. He wake-dreamed of sweets from the shop where a nice old man scooped cones of syrupy ice. Eyes dropped. But something, maybe wisdom, maybe obedience kept deep dreams away.
Fearsome looking, Sui demon opened the door. Leaves swirled underfoot. She reached; she intended an evil touch.The child and his father stirred. Coins clanked together. Moonlight gave chase and Sui melted away.