Thanks to NEKEEREJ of MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting this week’s photo challenge. For NaPoWriMo the prompt is ” to take one of your favorite poems and find a very specific, concrete noun in it. . . After you’ve chosen your word, put the original poem away and spend five minutes free-writing associations – other nouns, adjectives, etc. Then use your original word and the results of your free-writing as the building blocks for a new poem. The last letter of the A to Z Challenge is of course the letter Z for a GoodRead’s quote.
“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.” — Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Noun – “arbitrary blackness”
– “drops dead, “head,” imagined you”, come home, never did, lost love, war, hoping, never returned so he was lost in the war, she becomes this blackness, because he is gone, “Satan’s men” – the Nazi’s in Germany, exit, dreamed was with him in bed, dreams always, but she is mad, he exists no longer, never returned so never was?
Oh, little lamb so marked for slaughter, with downy wool and bleating softly. Why do you release your life so easily, so innocent, not knowing you are meant to eat. Oh, silent babes, I understand now — it’s not you who die but the GoodShepard who lays down his life for his sheep; his flock he knows and marks them well, his own blood the price paid, the enemy felled.
Alice was excited to be eighteen and have her coming-out party in society. The young girl who talked nonsense about Wonderland was gone — the adult had almost swallowed her fantastical self completely.
She participated in garden parties, having tea in different settings such as fashionable tea rooms with her mother and girl friends. Alice went out with friends on picnics and sometimes on a double-date with a girl friend, two gentlemen with potential, and of course a chaperone.
Part of Alice always had a difficult time letting go of Wonderland. She knew it as a world infinantly crazy. At the same time, it was a place where she felt at home and life even though hidden beneath words and rhymes, made the most sense out of any place she had visited.
Alice had been around the world. Her father and mother had taken her to Europe. She had seen art and buildings thousands of years-old. She studied countless kings, queens, poets, philisophers, and clergymen as she travelled with a tutor. She had even been to the Orient, stocking up on silk and tea for he friends. Something about having tea, always appealed to her. It wasn’t merely Victorian society’s obsession with the past-time.
Throughout her travels, Alice found herself thinking about her days in Wonderland. She would consider if her two grand adventures actually occurred. If the dreams she still had of people and creatures in Wonderland — new and old, throughout her life –were true?
Alice could picture her Wonderland friends drinking tea, eating cookies, and talking nonsense; it had all felt real. She missed her childhood, but at the same time thought she had indeed been bonkers. Her friends at school had quickly shown her how odd little girls were treated and mocked, until Alice ceased talking about Wonderland at all.
As she grew-up, she believed she caught glimpses of a furry white rabbit in a vest following her, keeping watch. The White Rabbit would turn his head and smile at Alice, purposefully checking his pocket watch and then waving it at her. She didn’t know what the White Rabbit wanted from her and she was never quite sure if he was real. Alice began to ignore the White Rabbit, but he was persistent, even invading her sleep. Her dreams became increasingly vivid and she felt wherever she went, traces of Wonderland and its inhabitants, grasped her with dreamy tendrils.
Since Alice had first returned from Wonderland as a small girl of six, a pair of intense green-eyes and an attractive smile, had haunted her dreams. She knew this man, knew he’d always been watching out for her in the stickiest of situations as she grew up, keeping her safe. Alice had never had the chance to meet this young man, only knew that he lingered in her presence often, and that when he she felt him, she was at peace.
Alice’s eigteenth birthday was a grand affair. Several young men and women attended with their families. Last night had been an opulent coming-out ball but tonight was a private affair for Alice and her closest girl friends. The best potential suitors for Alice and her friends were also invited.
She was sipping her tea when her eyes caught the eyes of a man she thought to be about five years her senior. His green-eyes were familiar and glinted knowingly at Alice. She stared at him enthralled; he seemed to know she was drawn to him. His smile was devastatingly familiar, but only in her dreams. Alice wasn’t sure she believedher dreams were genuine. Could magic still be real?
The young man was a strange creature to her, as strange as those creatures she’d met in Wonderland long ago. Perhaps more so, if the sins of the flesh the Abbot talked about were as terrible as he said they were. But Alice didn’t much care about the Abbot’s warnings. She was intrigued and had always been a curious girl; she peered at the green-eyed man considering him.
His suit was finely-made and he smiled at her boldly. He moved towards her, but Alice hid amongst her friends, not yet ready to meet him. Her heart fluttered when her eyes met the young man’s mysterious green-eyes again; he was laughing at her shyness.
Alice perturbed by his making fun of her, left her own party and went outside to ponder. She sat on a bench in the garden behind her house. She still tended the roses in the garden but had forgotten the unique song of all flowers, she had sung as a child. Her roses were wilting and dry. She stood up and bent to pick a lone surviving rose. Hearing odd noises she looked up.
She was unsure of where she was at first, the garden had disappeared and Alice stood on a large slippery brown rock in the middle of an ocean. A young man in a boat rowed towards her and the noises she heard was the water lapping against the stone.
“Oh, do hurry, this rock is so small and I think the water is rising,” Alice yelled to the man. She waved her arms until the boat was next to the rock and piercing green-eyes met her shocked blue ones. Strong hands gently held her steady as she stepped into the row boat.
Alice was grateful to the man, but then she recognized his face from the party. He pushed his short dark-brown waves from his forehead. His green-eyes knowingly studied Alice. She felt as a if she were a child again, under a teacher’s gaze, but the young man was not upset at her; he seemed curious and careful with her instead.
“Alice,” the young man said, “Please take a seat so I can row us to safer waters and neither one of us falls in the ocean.” Alice obeyed, sitting opposite of the man with her mouth gaping. The man gently closed her mouth, smoothing her skin with the back of his hand.
Alice’s face heated and she blushed,”Who are you? And why are you here with me in Wonderland? I didn’t think you were real, real enough to attend my party.”
The young man’s eyes twinkled cheerfully, “I’m Wren, Alice, and I’m here and yourhere because Wonderland needs us. It was time for you to return and time I met you in person — not only in your dreams.” Alice flushed red.
Wren chuckled, “You didn’t go easy on our friend the White Rabbit. He’s a bit peeved at you for ignoring him so long. He kept waving his prized watch at you. I’m surprised you weren’t curious enough to follow him, darling.”
“Wren, are you from Wonderland or did you come here as a child too, like me? You’ve been with me before a great deal. I remember your green-eyes and smile; you keep me safe, but you never say hello. I’ve never seen how you actually look before.”
“Dearest, I’ve always lived in Wonderland and you’re correct, I’ve been with you when you’ve visited and I take care you are safe in the outside world. I have a Cheshire Cat who watches you closely, along with my friend the White Rabbit. I haven’t always been able to be with you, but when I cannot you can be sure the Cheshire Cat or the White Rabbit are there.”
“Why do you keep me safe Wren and why do you call me dearest? I always thought you lived only in my dreams. It’s been so long since I visited through the looking glass; do you stand with the Red Queen or the White Queen?”
Wren smiled softly as he rowed the boat effortlessly, Alice peppering him with questions; he listened contentedly as he rowed. “I’m supported by the White Queen Alice, but my influence is greater than hers and so yourinfluence will be greater than any queen as well.”
Alice studied Wren. She had been staring her boots shyly, for far too long. It wasn’t like her to be shy, when she bubbled with questions. Yet, she could feel herself blush anytime she looked at Wren; his smile brightened when he caught Alice staring.
She brushed the blond hair out of her eyes and in her frilly white dress, balled her hands together on her lap, determined to have a long look at Wren. She was assured she’d seen him before in some form and felt his presence keeping her from harm. Wren was beautiful to Alice; he was handsome and lithely muscled beneath his clothes. He was from Wonderland so she was pleased not to have to hide nonsensicallogic from him; he already would understand what Wonderland was like.
She noticed his eyes peruse her and Alice blushed again. Wren reached for her small hand and squeezed it gently, as he stopped rowing the boat. “Alice, you’re beautiful. As a girl, I thought you a fascinating girl, defeating the Red Queen and deftly dealing with Time. You had such a tousled head of blond hair and you still do. You’ve the same inquisitive blue-eyes and you’ve grown into a stunning woman,” Wren told her squeezing her hand again. He seemed genuine and the compliments made Alice flustered.
“Your beauty is also an asset when one has been tasked to guard Wonderland as we have,” Wren continued.”Beauty can attract and fool people and often, at the same time,” Wren said, absently stroking circles on Alice’s hand. “It’s hard for me to explain. Especially since I’ve much more experience than you’ve in life. Humans ageslowly in Wonderland –most creatures here do. But as in any land, we have ourownways to protect and our own tyrants to fight. You have proven yourself twice against our foes.”
Wren held both her hands firmly, appearing serious, “We have always had two guardians at a time, for a thousand Wonderland years each pair, ensuring Wonderland’s survival. Our guardians are a couple; a couple is stronger than one being. I am one guardian, born in Wonderland and familiar with its ways,” Wren said.
“The second guardian is you, Alice, born of the outside world. You have learned and come to love Wonderland — though lately you pretend otherwise. You are the second guardian Alice and I’ve waited forever for you, my other half. You know forever can be a very long time.”
Alice blushed and then upon realizing the great responsibility she now had, her face went white, “Why me? Is this why I have never been able to forget Wonderland all these years ? Am I to marry you, a man I don’t really know?
Wren grinned at Alice tugging gently on her hands as she tried to free herself from his touch; he chuckled, playfully. Alice began to smile too and as she peered up from their joined hands, she saw the row boat resting on a beach. They stepped over the side of the boat and the vivacity and colour of Wonderland surrounded her as they walked into the forest. The flowers greeted Alice immediately, so happy she had returned.
Wren stopped walking a moment, turning to face Alice. He was heads above her and tilted her chin up to look at him. “My Alice,” he began, “Magic is a curious thing. It can find the right people and draw them together. It has always driven me to you. I have loved you since I first saw you.”
“That makes no sense.”
“But it does Alice. You believe in magic, yes?” Alice nodded.
“Then you know. If you want magical things to happen, you must believe in them. We must believe in each other. And what’s knowing? People are together fifty-years in your world and they don’t know each other. Often, they’ve forgotten the magic — the love, between them. Here the world is magic and I will not forget you or our love.”
“Wren, I’m particularly fond of you. I’ve never felt this way, except about you, ever — only in dreams when you visited, when I felt you near somehow. Is that love and is it enough? And I’m only eighteen-years-old, how can I guard Wonderland?
Wren smiled and he gently pecked Alice’s lips.”We have forever. Forever is a thousand Wonderland years. All your old friends are here. Not those girls who were cruel to you for being you at school. Wonderland needs us both and you will soon know me as I know you. We will even know each other better than most people ever know each other. What you feel for me, I’m so thankful for. And yes it is enough, it is the beginning of love.”
“I’m not sure couples should always know each other better. Sometimes secrets are better kept,” Alice said thoughtfully.
“Dearest, we cannot have secrets. We have a responsibility but we have a haven in each other and perhaps much later, a child to carry on as guardian with another girl or boy from your world, when forever comes,” Wren stated stroking Alice’s cheek.
“I can trust you, Wren? I’d rather have the truth in a nonsensical way than an outright lie,” Alice said firmly staring at Wren.
He blushed this time, “I will be truthful to you —nonsensically and sensically.”
Alice smiled and kissed Wren’s cheek before saying,”You never said Wren, who do we guard Wonderland from?”
“From reality, Alice. From those who do not believe in magic. For those who would tell people love is not real and everything has to be logical and makesense. Though our world is much nonsense, we make moresense than the real world. There are always monsters in the midst and as you know, timehimself is often one of them. So are Queens and many tyrants, there is always a badguy somewhere I’m afraid,” Wren said a bit tiredly.
Alice stared at Wren, standing on her tippy-toes, and stroking his stumbled cheeks in comfort. She felt drawn to Wren, as if she were in a pleasant fog. Gently her lips met Wren’s for a kiss. He kissed her back more intensely and she could feel what she knew was passion between them; it was Alice’s first real kiss. They lingered a while, walking and teasing each other, stealing more kisses which were more difficult for Alice to step away from each time.
A stray thought occurrred to her as they walked, “Won’t my mother miss me?” Alice asked, “How can I leave her alone?”
“She will believe you married a wealthy heir and will be pleased, as that will be the truth; we can visit her often, though she will be gone for most of your lifetime.”
Alice nodded feeling sad, but realizing her duty with Wren. She wasn’t afraid, knowing he was with her. She knew their relationship was blossoming and would flourish, perhaps, with ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ as couples had — but perhaps, better. Their connection had been built her entire life.
Taking Wren’s hand, Alice walked off into Wonderland. How curious her home would be here with Wren and his green–eyes gazing at her with love, and the White Rabbit out of no where, jumping beside them.
“I love that you can find spirals from the tiniest places (our DNA) to massive expanses (the Milky Way) and everywhere in between. Free write about spiraling and see where you go – do you spiral up or down? Find where this word takes you and go from there.”
Come ride the ferry cross the Acheron, the boundary between earth and Hades; come all souls, Charon assures you may enter; your relatives paid your way, placing in your mouth a coin; once entered Hades in the gorge, you can never leave.
Come ride the ferry where the five rivers meet – Styx, Phlegethon, Acheron, Lethe, Cocytus – converging in the marsh called Styx; the river, the marsh, the goddess, all gods swear upon it when they make their oaths, to keep their promises; come ride the ferry dear ones.
Come, where they say, the goddess Styx has healing powers, bathe in her river Styx, become invulnerable; see how Achilles mother dipped him in the Styx, so no enemy could end his life, there was just the exception of his tiny heal; come lost souls take the ferry to Hades, eternity of joy or pain awaits.
*To give credit: Angie Trafforddoing TLT this week used a bit of Greek Mythology and the character of Hades in her TLT sentences. Check-out her blog in the link above. Thank you to Angie for the idea of using Greek Mythology and the afterlife; your idea allowed me to explore the concept in a different direction.
Thanks to Wandering Soul who hosts this challenge. You are supposed to write one or two more sentences to make a three line story with the prompt sentence. I tend to get inspired and end up with an entire story, jammed into two too long sentences. So I’m linking to her blog with my story inspired by the sentence: ” The picture on the wall was crooked; a lot like the person in it.”
The picture on the wall was crooked; a lot like the person in it. I knew the photo was of my Grandpa’s brother Jerry, who had shot himself in the foot to get out of WWII. He had only been in France a week and spent most of his active duty attempting to make himself throw-up daily, so he didn’t have to fight but could remain in the infirmary. But Jerry’s Captain realized what Jerry was up to and put him back with his company to kill German soldiers.
Sadly, it wasn’t beyond Jerry’s cowardice to hide behind other soldiers in his squadron, or use them as shields. I doubt Jerry’s company minded when he showed them a German soldier had shot him in the foot; even though his squadron knew Jerry had shot himself to get out of fighting in the War. It wasn’t as if many soldiers hadn’t thought of shooting their own foot to escape War’s reality, but most of them knew their country needed them and took their duty as a soldier with pride.
Jerry’s fellow soldiers were glad to see ‘useless’ Jerry gone. He hadn’t made any friends and most men knew being Jerry’s friend meant he would desert you when you needed help; infact, life expectancy for members in Jerry’s old company went up when Jerry was sent home with a permanent limp.
Jerry told absurd and utterly fake stories about being a War hero when he returned to his family’s house in London. Jerry had even stolen a poor dead man’s medals to make it appear as if he had been recognized by England, Primeminister Churchill, and the Queen, for defending his country.
But Jerry’s family didn’t believe his stories and doubted he had sacrificed himself to earn such high honours. Jerry’s family knew his personality, the cowardliness and cunning that always lurked behind Jerry’s every action.
War was awful and terrifying, but Jerry’s father who had fought in WWI and Jerry’s permanently wounded brother Clancy, who fought in WWII, believed Jerry should be doing his duty back in France. Soldiers were being shipped to the beaches of Normandy and neither Jerry’s father or Clancy thought the slight limp that Jerry most likely gave himself, should stop a soldier from doing his duty.
Jerry eventually left home during the War, wandering the roads in different towns, lost and afraid that death would catch up with him because he had avoided it in France. In the shadow of a pale moon, a bomb flew from the sky one night, and Jerry met his end in England, near his family’s home.
Both Jerry’s father and brother Clancy, at last we’re proud of him. The bomb from a German airplane had hit Jerry and not another person or a building full of civilians. Jerry hadn’t intended on being the bombs target, but his family felt they could remember the cowardly man with a bit of pride now.
Jerry’s photo, Grandpa Clancy said, should remind us Grandchildren to be brave and not use others because we are afraid, as Uncle Jerry had done in his life. Grandpa Clancy’s Grandchildren knew what true sacrifice was when their Grandfather showed them the stump that was once his left leg.
Clancy had never bothered with a prosthetic limb. His leg stump spoke volumes to a generation who did not realize what a sacrifice so many men had made so their children and Grandchildren could be free from men such as Hitler and his Nazis.
Clancy had loved his brother. The part of Jerry who was a scheming coward, Clancy had never been able to understand. Scared or not, a man has to do what a man had to do, especially during a War. Clancy was cheered that in death, his brother Jerry may have been brave.