Okay, this is last week's Magpie Tales prompt. I loved the prompt, I just didn't get it together. But then yesterday I was talking about the inspiration I find in Victoria Williams and I mentioned the Sweet Relief benefit album(s) of the nineties, and I thought of this song – another oft-played favourite of Victoria's songs in my home, this time interpreted by "that firecracker" Maria McKee.
I couldn't pull it together for the Magpie Tales Tuesday launch, and I've already started to write this week's "tale" based on this week's Magpie prompt. But what the hell – Victoria said pretty much what I was not able to pull together, so better late than never, I say.
(Bad video – gets cut off at the end. But just buy it on i-tunes, or dare I say it – buy the album on CD! You'll be glad you did.)
I see bed-head and sleep-squashed skin. You see cosy and tousled. I see lumps and new sags and wrinkles. You see respite and contentment in the white cotton sheets; knees that would be salty and wet, lolling in a rowboat off the coast of somewhere, or red painted toes offering a playful kick in the jaw.
You find hearts filled with the scent of forests or minds intertwined around the harvest moon and symphonies of crickets. Earthy songs, tales of hill walks, lakeside trysts and kitchen tables in the morning.
Or the translucent morning light recalling my beauty in your forever loyal eyes.
“We may be gorgeous to each other, like chocolate,” you said, “but there's something that transcends oceans.”
Despite your penchant for Barry Manilow songs, you are more gorgeous than chocolate, and I’ll always get cosy and tousled with you.
This is a response to Willow's latest Magpie Tales visual creative writing prompt. Visit Magpie Tales to find other fine poets and writers responding to the same prompt. Give it a try – creative play is good for you! This story is inspired by a certain puppet.
Hamlet awoke, aching and sluggish. He felt bleary as if he had slept for days and the vividness of that dream left him feeling as if he’d lived it. Instead though, he attributed his exhaustion to the of mysterious egg object he had stolen the day previous and the tremendous effort it took his tiny limbs to roll the thing from the human cottage to his home in the middle of the wood. Still draped over his pallet, he admired the thing standing like a sentry at the entrance to his den.
His thoughts soon drifted back to the dream – he had never had one that felt so lifelike. From the heightened beating within his chest when he first laid eyes on that shiny glass orb hanging from a tree in a grove near the castle, to the momentum he gained in rolling it back toward his home – Hamlet felt as if he had lived the experience, not dreamt it.
In his dream Hamlet was invincible, acting with swiftness and precision; first climbing the tree and releasing the knot in the net-like hanger that held the orb, then scrambling to the ground, removing the orb from the hanger and rolling it across the open field toward the forest and safety. The dream was so alive in his mind that the confidence and strength with which he manoeuvred the heist still coursed through him, and certainly that is what compelled him to explore the grove of trees near the castle and see if the orb really did exist. He had never felt such certainty embarking on any pilfering excursion before.
And then, when he reached the grove of trees at the edge of the castle grounds, there was the orb – just as he saw it in his dream. With joy he thought of the egg standing sentry at his door and felt certain it cast a magic spell on his dreams. Greedy now, he thought of the riches and objects he would find in his dreams.
After scanning the landscape to ensure it was free of humans and other creatures, Hamlet scrambled up the tree and just as he did in his dream, he pulled and tugged at the silken knot holding the orb’s hanger to a branch and watched it fall to the ground. Back on the ground he released the orb from the woven strings and began to roll the thing out of the copse and into the field back toward home.
Halfway across the field, Hamlet froze, sensing eyes on him. Vulnerable in the open field, he struggled to retain his composure he looked around and saw no movement or sign. Feeling panic, he rolled the orb as fast as he could to the edge of the wood and nestled it against a tree. He looked around him again – seeing no visitor but sensing a presence. Perhaps it is the magic warning me, he thought, and fast as he could, covered the orb with leaves and marked the spot with a seemingly casual arrangement of sticks and flowers.
He crept back to his den under the familiar camouflage of forest undergrowth. Next day when it was safe he would go back and retrieve his prize from the tree. He lay down on his pallet and soon slept, tired from the exertion in the two days of thieving.
When Hamlet awoke with the sun, he was not rested but sore and exhausted again, seemingly from the events of his dream. Enchanted with the dream of the beautiful glass orb hanging in a tree in a copse near the castle, Hamlet had no memory of the same dream the night before or his adventures in finding the glass ball.
Hamlet was right. That egg had cast a spell on his dreams. Only he could not know he would awaken each day devoid of any memory of having dreamt it before or the events of retrieving the object. And of course no memory of the lurking presence or the hiding of the ball near the tree.
The spell rendered Hamlet like a goldfish, who with no memory finds a new surprise every time it circles to the other side of its bowl. And thus every day Hamlet awakened having experienced a brand new dream.
Four days later as Hamlet ventured across the field on his fourth venture toward a tree that no longer held the glass ball, a shadowy figure lurked on the edge of the wood watching, thankful for the fairy’s odd repetitive game. Indeed it was opportunity for capture of a most elusive species. That travelling human in the caravan on the edge of town would play a handsome price for this little fella.
The instant she walked into the room there it was, arranged on the middle shelf as if set there for the subtlest impact, to blend gently in with the other pewter pieces with their similar curves and patinas. But there was never anything gentle or subtle in anything he did. That pewter creamer was placed there as a symbol of a host of dead-end discussions and pointless arguments and delicately slicing jabs and so it was no less apparent than a neon sign saying “LOOK THIS WAY.” She knew this gift signalled the end of them.
She trailed her finger along the delicate engraved edge and felt the essence of its history, the laughter and debate around the tables on which the little piece sat in service to supply milk for a cup of tea or a bowl of porridge. She admired the heart-like shape of the thing, her hands moving over its sloping curves and exquisite balance. She felt the weight of it, as if all the history surrounding the little vessel was contained within it. What of the stories that had been told around the tables during its time? In her chest she felt a heaving sense of grief at the story unfolding around it now.
Why had he done it? Was he conceding one last attempt to salvage this? He had told her many times he didn’t understand her, that he thought she was frivolous and clung to meaningless ideals. His buying of this piece then would always serve to remind her of that – of this one gulf between them. “Why don’t you spend your time thinking about more practical things? Instead you covet such waste and cling to silly romantic notions.” No, there was no benevolence behind this gift. It is merely his move in the game, meant to satisfy her, to keep her happy with things, to settle her restlessness. And it would always serve to remind her that all she was worth was the shelling out for some piece of ephemera he thought useless and silly – just as he did her sensibility.
She would have to talk to him, to thank him. And she’d be expected to show gratitude and fondness for his act. This small thing she’d loved so many times in the window of the antique dealer – how it must have irked him to pull out his wallet and pay for it – a meaningless knick-knack that would fill some frivolous need in her.
As she carried the piece with her to find him, she felt sick with the anticipation of the conversation; and with the temptation to hit him over the head with it.