The Tense Silence of Our Youth

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Instead of Hansel and Gretel, we have been Hannah and Gerta perhaps – two who find themselves lost in the great forest while the breadcrumbs meant to indicate a way home provide nourishment for ever watchful crows.

There have been times we both felt this way. Some of them have been simultaneous.

This state of being included some of our greatest obstacles, not only in writing but in day-to-day living. Hard to go forward when we’re looking back.

Struggles though these times have been keenly disheartening, but reminders from family and friends that everything is relative often sustains us.

Or turning around from running away to face the fear, the discomfort, the pain until it has nothing more to say, no more to deliver.

Like a string of pearls reversing into velvet black time, these difficulties have also formed a radiant calm and beauty, encouraging reflection.

Through all of this, we’ve managed to accomplish what once seemed impossible.

We’re still at it.

“Ella… the Untold Story”

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For today’s post, we are sharing a short story written on Day 25 of Andrea’s Creative Writing course. The prompt on that day was one that is especially fun as fairy tales often contain skeletal story elements, ripe soil for creative change and embellishment. Here goes the prompt: “Write a fairy tale that changes the ending and other elements of the original.”

“Ella… the Untold Story”

  “Ella, are you going to sit there all day while I’m out hunting and keeping the kingdom safe?”

“Yup. Pretty much. You promised me an exciting life, and all I get to do is stare at these same four stone walls.”

His tone softened as he sat down next to her. “I don’t want anything to happen to you. You know how the other kingdoms are always trying to take us down. If anything ever happened to you, I would be devastated. There’s plenty for you to do around here.”

“Like what, dear King? Order this one around or that one? I am watched 24/7. I’ve freakin had it with the microscope I live under. The only time I get to myself is when I’m on the throne, if you know what I mean. Even then I’m not so sure. I see how the others look at me when I leave the loo.”

“Oh Ella. You’re being paranoid. No one is watching you.”

“If you say so. But I don’t buy it. Not one bit.”

“I’ll prove it to you. Go for a walk around the garden. No one will follow you. I promise.”

“Okay. I’ll do that.” Ella gave him a kiss on the cheek and was on her way.

After she left, he went behind the large wall tapestry and entered his mission control. “Keep an eye on her, boys, but not too close. I told her she wasn’t being watched, and I don’t want her to get suspicious.”

“Yes, Your Majesty. We won’t let her out of our sight.”

“You can ease up on the powder room camera. I guess she can have a little privacy there for now.”

The king noticed the disappointment in the man’s eyes. He wanted to smash his face into the desk, but he refrained. He needed his men loyal, and hurting this one would not be good for morale.

***

I know he’s watching me. I can feel it. Ella kicked the dirt with her glass walking shoes. Ever since they got together, every pair of shoes had to be made of glass. Really? I know he thinks it’s romantic but enough already. My feet are killing me.

“Hello Mister Mouse. How are you today?”

The tiny creature looked up at her and with a turn of his head, smiled. She knew the mouse was having a good day.

Ella wished for the freedom he had. Even at her evil stepmother’s, she had time to herself. Who knew it was going to be like this?

“Can you help me, Sweetie?”

Ella walked to where she heard the raspy voice. There was a turtle lying on his back in the shade under a big oak. He was smiling at her too. Nothing surprised her these days since she knew magic was real.

“How may I help you, Mister Turtle.”

“If you could turn me right side up, I would be ever so grateful.”

“No problem,” and Ella immediately righted the turtle on his feet once more.

“I’d like to be Frank with you. I am your Fairy Godmother’s half-brother on her father’s side. I am here to de-wish you.”

“De-wish me? Whatever does that mean?”

“Well, I know you wanted this, but not ‘this’ exactly. You know the old saying, ‘Be care…’”

“Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. I know that saying all right. So how does this de-wishing process work?”

“You have a choice. You can either leave things as they are, or you can go back to the way things were.”

This is it. What I’ve been hoping for all these long months. “Hmm. Which do I choose?”

“Sleep on it. Your true heart’s desire will reveal itself in the morning.”

“By the way, what is your name, kind turtle?”

“I already told you. My name is Frank.”

“What? Oh, yes. I guess in an unconventional way, you did.”

Ella thanked Frank, waved goodbye, and headed back to the castle. She quickly passed the king’s chambers and entered her sleeping area. It was a long boring day and she was ready for bed.

She awoke from a deep sleep to a screeching sound she hadn’t heard in forever.

“Cinderella! Get down here now and make us breakfast!”

“Oh no. I made a mistake. I don’t want this again. Please bring me back.”

Ella opened her eyes to the king’s face. He was nose to nose with her.

“Good morning, Sunshine. It’s wakey wakey time. You have a big day ahead of you.”

“Really? What do you have planned for me?” Ella sat up. She was excited at the prospect of an adventure.

“Well, you said you were bored, so I gave the chef and maids the day off. You get to take care of the whole castle. Isn’t that exciting? Enjoy your day, Love. I’ll see you tonight.”

“Frank!! Come back!”

Tortoise

Thank you for reading.

If you feel so moved to adapt a fairy tale of your choice, we would love for you to share it or its URL here in the comments.

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Breadcrumbs and Echoes

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Once, a couple of months back, we wrote down the title of this blog post, not knowing then what it might turn into when we used it. We wrote no content, just the title. The time is now,  so we are talking about what breadcrumbs and echoes mean to each of us.

~*~

 {Leslie –>}  Breadcrumbs make me think of two things simultaneously: my grandmother’s cooking and fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel. Of course, Grandma couldn’t be further from the antagonist in Hansel and Gretel if she tried.

 

However they both lead to the same place. Hansel left breadcrumbs so he could find his way home… and I have my own set of memories and food that bring me back to when Grandma was still with us. Home. Those ways of communicating with past and future are vital in life, and they are also something we consider when we’re writing.

 

Foreshadowing and flashbacks are breadcrumbs.

 

One more word about fairy tales from my ‘don’t want to stand on a soap box:’ To me, they are the DNA of storytelling. ‘Just the facts, Ma’am’ kind of thing. They are the skeletons to which we add specific settings, characteristics, and developed themes, each in our own individual voice.

 

They are so familiar to all of us that we recognize them even where they’re embedded in more complex tales: the three brothers, the helpful person along the wooden path, the animal side of human nature, like the wolf in Grandmother’s clothing. Echo and Narcissus – a beloved tale from childhood.

 

Echoes make me think of whales– communication between their families and friends over the miles. Animals in general as well – for a girl whose dearest thought was once to grow up and be a veterinarian in the Sydney Zoo since age seven.

 

Now I’m left joining those two concepts in a meaningful way. Let me give it a shot.

 

Grandma told me stories all my life. They were a combination of folk stories from her native country where she was born and many everyday and miraculous stories from her own life. Ah, what a life. They are part of mine now. These gave the children, myself included, breadcrumbs back to other lands and our own ancestral tales and people.

 

Here’s what it boils down to: everything is story and therefore communication. It can be drawn from past, present, future, and other species.

~*~

{Andrea –>}   I really had no idea what I was originally thinking when I saw the title. I only knew that it meant something to me. What comes to mind are the steps I’m taking and the intuition I’m following.

 

Breadcrumbs someone left for me to follow and the echoes in my mind guiding me where to go next.

 

It has been quite the journey writing this book with Leslie and following the steps along the way.

 

Sometimes the breadcrumbs weren’t there, and I had to stop and look around. They disappeared for days at a time, but then the echo came in and told me where to pick up the trail.

 

They aren’t leading me to a candy cottage but they are leading me to something very sweet. I appreciate the breadcrumbs and echoes. I continue to keep my eyes and ears open for them on a daily basis.

 

Hmmm, what’s my next step? “Oh there you are. Thank you. So happy to see you again.”