Emmie Learns a Lesson

Emmie liked to talk. She talked when her mother pulled up the shade in the morning. She talked when brushing her teeth – foamy white painting her chin. She talked while she pulled her purple panda shirt past her ears. She talked at the kitchen table, her tongue bouncing off consonants and cheerios.

“Esmeralda, if you don’t stop talking, your head is going to fall off,” said her mother.

Emmie talked to her bus driver as she bounced to school. She talked to her best friend, Yasmarie. And to Perilla, Jules and Marjoram. Yasmarie tapped her toe and sighed.

“Esmeralda, if you don’t stop talking, your head is going to fall off,” said Yasmarie. Continue reading


Alain hunched his shoulders against the late October wind. He had failed the science test. A first. But what did he expect? He was in seventh grade, now; he had to study to get good grades. Yet, he let it slide until the…

A rustle from a maple tree turned his head. He saw a flash of fluorescence behind the plume of red and dirty-gold foliage. It flew into a hedge near a parked Elantra. Alain was running before his eyes saw the hawk. Waving his arms, shouting. The Red-tailed Hawk followed the same trajectory as the fluorescent flash, arriving at the hedge a stride, or a flap, before Alain.

Alain was close enough to hit the Hawk – or have an eye gouged by a talon – when the great bird rose away from the hedge leaving his prize on the ground, wounded.

Alain knelt, his cupped hands mimicking a halo, surrounding the fallen bird. Then he scooped it as if it were made of water and would drain through his fingers if he wasn’t careful. He held a parakeet of tapering turquoise and blue luminescence. Dazed, sure. But the Hawk hadn’t left a… Continue reading

When to Feed the Animals

The day seemed not to notice her. The Sun made no slight dimming and brightening to announce her release into the world. The winds did not gather about and spin her in-stride as she ran through the bluegrass and rye of the great green field across the street from her home. The sky remained soaked in the same clear Azure she knew.

But someone was taking note as Emmie neared the little wood at the center of the park.

Emmie walked. Sometimes skipped a step or two. Sometimes bent to retrieve a likely stick along the woodchip path meandering to the foot bridge. She bounded up the bridge’s two rough-hewn, worn to gray, pine-board stairs.

Often it was little more than a gully, but today the stream ran strong, which was why Emmie was there. She toed the bottom crosspiece of the bridge’s picket fence and hooked her arms around the crowning crosspiece and pitched the stick up-river. Then she unhooked her arms, jumped down and darted to the downriver railing. She hung from her armpits, waiting.

The stick arrived – neither pausing to accept praise nor express its thanks – and continued navigating the fickle currents until Emmie could no longer track it.

This she did again.

And again until she was out of sticks, which arrived just as she wearied of playing. As if the sticks’ counsel had been sought in the devising of the game.

And her armpits hurt, too.

She leapt off the bridge and sometimes running sometimes skipping all times singing continued down the woodchip path. It traced a wobbly U through the little woods so that when she reemerged into the sunlight she would be facing home.


Emmie finally noticed who had been watching her. She had been standing near the bridge while Emmie played. She didn’t need to hide to be invisible; she could will it. She stepped from the shadows, muscles tracing sinuous grace, to stand in the woodchip path blocking Emmie’s way.

“Now what will you do,” asked the grey wolf. Continue reading

The Brave Duck

The duck did not miss the girl wearing the yellow T-shirt with the giraffe on the pocket. He missed the bits of bread and lettuce she tossed. But the girl? He didn’t think so.

She yelped and he startled, dropping the lettuce she tossed his way, fluttering back into the glistening pond. One of the older drakes had bitten her hand. He knew what she felt, having received nips on his tail speeding out of their way. Whichever way their bills were pointed was “their way.” They allowed him to paddle in all other directions…unless one of those directions led to bread crusts and lettuce.

He watched the little girl and her father walk away from the pond. He watched her fingers knit into his fingers. He paddled around the bend to the pile of stones where the stream emptied into the pond. He hopped onto the stones and waddled up the stream, eyes ahead. Maybe he missed her a little.

Upstream he saw the little girl walking on the river stones, still holding her father’s hand. Her father swung her onto the grass and they disappeared over the crest of a green knoll.

The duck fluttered onto shore and then over the trees, circling…watching them walk across the great green field toward their home. Continue reading

The Very Long Winter

A story from the novel The Feast of the Moon as told by Ichilles to his friend Shrew:

“Would you like to hear a story?”

“Does it contain the words: and that is the end?”


“So, I have something to look forward to.”

I had lied: I did not know how it would end. When I started a story without knowing what shape it would take (I imagine the Sun had that problem when He created opossums), a voice behind my eyes picked up the first acorn it saw and handed it to me.

“This is a story about Hamster and Bluejay and a very long winter.”

Shrew groaned at very long winter.

“But the story is not long,” I added.

“The winter I spend this evening listening to it will be.”

I ignored him and continued.

Long ago, when the world was still warm from the Sun’s paws, Hamster and Bluejay were trading songs, enjoying the cool of the evening. Continue reading

The Abandoned Farmhouse

Not so long ago an abandoned farmhouse was struck by lightning and caught fire. It burned through the night and into the next day. When the firefighters finally inspected it only embers smoldered in the rubble. The massive oak crossbeam supporting the roof had cracked and buckled causing the roof to collapse to the second floor. The second floor and roof crashed to the first floor which in turn caved-in to the cellar.

The lieutenant of the crew frowned at the wreckage. The corkscrewed and splintered bones of the old house were heaped in a pile nearly reaching ground level. It looked like a knot of prehistoric snakes spaded up from the center of the earth. He ordered a thorough soaking.

The lieutenant studied what remained of the second story. To his surprise a lolling section of roof rode atop the two walls still standing. It was balanced as if someone with too much time and not enough ambition had leaned two playing cards together and poised a third one just so.

He ordered his crew away from the area. The roof was going to follow the rest of the old house before long.

But it didn’t. The roof maintained its improbable poise.

Over the next few weeks village and township inspectors frowned at the blackened walls and shredded roof. Knocking it down would’ve been prudent. Having the other guy pay for it, wiser still. And so the farmhouse stayed.

The land it now teetered upon hosted a working replica of a nineteenth century farm. It backed to the small woods that were next to the great green field that was attached to the municipal park across the street from Emmie’s home. Emmie visited the farm whenever she could. She loved holding the chicks, petting Bonnie and Babe on their wide muzzles, watching the turkeys chase each other and laughing at the pigs as they rolled in the mud.

Even before the fire Emmie was fascinated by the abandoned farmhouse. She dedicated a minute or so every few visits to walking off the foot path leading to the new farmhouse, high-stepping-it through the brush choking an overgrown side path to stand in the abandoned farmhouse’s shadow.

When she came upon the farmhouse this time the devastation startled her. She shifted her eyes back and across the wreckage trying to figure out a how come. Her gaze settled on the juncture of roof and walls. She considered the bowed walls and crumpled roof magnificent. They appeared ready to keel over that second, but also like they had been set there by Druids a thousand years earlier. Both at the same time.

An iridescent flash at the crux of roof and wall caught her attention. A bird bobbed in and out of that delicate space and then flew away. Emmie watched as it graced the invisible currents between Here and There. He returned with a scrap from the woods where Emmie liked to idle. He flew to the crux of wall and roof, again bobbing in and out of view. Emmie sidled to her right, angling backward to get a better look. Continue reading

The Water Drop

A droplet condensed out of the heavy fog high above the curve of the blue world. Having been born from mist, riding currents beneath a horizon of limitless translucent clouds he knew only falling. And, so, took falling for life, and not falling at all.

On his journey toward the gentle curve, the droplet watched as cousin-droplets evaporated around him – too small to hold their shape against gravity and wind. It did not occur to him that he was destined for such an end.

“Help me,” cried a tiny droplet, no more than a foglet. “I can feel myself fading away.  I’m so scared.”

The water droplet saw that there was nothing to be done; the little foglet was going melt into the thick air. So he reached out to offer comfort, to hold the frail droplet, to say, “there, there,” until the foglet had evaporated into the humid air.  But when he embraced the droplet, it disappeared. Continue reading

A Piece of Laughter

Esmeralda did not relish the doing of the homework.

She did, however, relish the ceasing of the badgering. And she came to appreciate how the badgering would cease upon the completing of the homework. But the appreciating of the doing of the homework? No.

Nor the getting of the smarter. What was to relish? She didn’t feel smarter. Did not feel like a different Emmie. But the ceasing of the badgering (as well as the ceasing of the “I’m very disappointed in you, Emmie-ing;” and the “sitting right there until it is finished, Emmie-ing”) she relished.

This homework assignment jabbed more needles into her rising balloon of swing-setting, hamstering, play with Lucy-ing, and laughtering than previous homework assignments.

She had to write a poem. Continue reading

Three Deaf Mice

“I couldn’t begin to feel what that is like,” said the clarinet.

“That must be excruciating,” echoed the french horn.

The flute did not look up.  Nor did he feel less self-pity.  He had been given to a beginner.  The flute had performed at the Met.  At the Lyric.  At the Palladium.  The notes of Handel, Pachelbel…of his beloved Bach, had graced his keys and tone hole.  Yet, yesterday he endured the agony of Three Blind Mice.

“Our sainted Beethoven!” exclaimed the clarinet.  “Three Blind MiceReally?  How did you ever manage, my dear?”

“I don’t believe I know that one,” said the French horn.  “Is that a developed theme on Farmer in the Dell?”

The flute smoldered.  The French horn had played nothing but masterpieces since he was crafted – always in the hands of a virtuoso. Continue reading

Emmie and the Magic Acorn

Emmie walked up the path through the great green field across the street from her house to the friendly woods with the creek winding through them – and the creaky bridge over it – to play Poohsticks.  They were the scary woods at night, but that is a different story.


Emmie stopped.

“Psst. Oh-vuh he-uh.”

“What,” Emmie asked to nowhere.

“Over here.  Look up.”

A crow perched on the lower branch of an Oak tree, shielded by drooping leaves.

“That’s a nice shirt you got thay-uh. What’d’ya want fuh it?”

“Excuse me?”  Asked Esmeralda. Continue reading