Yeasty fresh rolls wrapped in rough textured linen, unpolished like the girl who carried the basket. Mist rose from woody ground to fill the heavy air. The young girl parked herself to rest under a tree.
Behind her, a rank smell rose. A wild laugh accompanied the odor’s owner, a creature of the forest who embodied all that tangled in trees and clung to rocks. “Tired? I have a shortcut for you.”
“Where am I going, then?”
“Give something, get something.”
“I’ll give you what for.” She pulled out an ax from her red riding cape and cut things short.
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.
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.
The Goblin King’s minion had failed. Hershel tricked him and kept the Hanukkah candles burning.
“The Jew will not win again. No more miraculous nights. Darkness for Donbas.” The goblin exploded into a vortex that sucked up the atmosphere. The synagogue door shattered to splinters. “Behold my power.”
Hershel shook with fear. “I see no one. Light a candle if you’re there.”
The goblin’s pride kept him lighting the candles. He wanted respect.
Hershel led the Goblin King on until the last candle had been lit. Furious, the goblin destroyed the synagogue, but Hershel and the menorah’s light stayed strong.
Inspired by Eric Kimmel’s Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, with hope for a miracle in Ukraine.Kimmel credits a Ukrainian folktale for his inspiration. It’s turtles all the way down.
“You’re in trouble.” Lars was out of breath. “You’re gonna get grounded.”
“I’ve got to hold back the water.” Hans reached for his phone. “Here, alert the dike patrol.”
Lars took the phone and did as he was told. That was the difference between them. His brother almost never did what he was told. He was always off on an adventure. The younger one stayed home to placate their mother.
“The dike patrol, they’re coming.” Lars saw the strain in Han’s face and, surprised, saw fear in his eyes. “Can I help?”
Daisy stood at the starting line and kissed her frog for luck. A long-legged young man arose from the frog’s place and cleared his throat.
“Are you a princess?” Cedric worried he was lost.
“Daddy calls me Princess.”
The jumping contest official told them they’d need to move.
Daisy took Cedric’s hand. “Daddy’ll know what to do.” She pulled him into the chaos of the county fair.
Cedric slipped through her fingers and disappeared into a fortuneteller’s booth. She handed Cedric a tarnished lamp. When he rubbed the dust away, a genie appeared and Cedric found himself in another story.
Pussy was a musical cat. Sometimes the tabby played a lute and others a bagpipe. She yowled at pubs throughout the British Isles that bear the name Cat and Fiddle. Accompanists flocked to back her up.
Nine long lives she lived and nine again but cats grow old, as do we all. She retired to a barn in Cheshire, then to an old wishing well with one last request: a concert. Johnny Green gathered a band for Pussy’s last show. His father beat him. Said, “A better mouser never was nor will be.”