The Legendary Monsters

It was the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last.

Mum knew it but, fortunately, he didn’t. He just held on tight because Mum had told him to. His little eyes were wide open although he really couldn’t focus on much with Mum moving so fast.

With eyes radiating innocence and clumps of  red hair standing on end, the little tyke was the most adorable thing ever. He was the youngest in his family and his mother and aunts doted on him. He was still considered young but he knew he would soon be permitted to play with his cousins. They were always calling out to each other and playing games.

Except now the calls didn’t sound so encouraging. In fact, these cries were drastically different and they scared him. And it wasn’t just his family causing the racket. Birds were screeching loudly as well and taking to the sky en masse. Those loud bangs were scary too. He didn’t like seeing his oldest aunt fall face down after that first bang.

Was she playing a game? If she was, he didn’t like this one.

But Mum knew this wasn’t a game. She’d grown up listening to stories of them – those legendary two-legged monsters and their hurt-inducing black instruments. She’d never seen them herself but many of her sisters had warned her about them. She’d heard that the instruments were loud, and emitted something sharp and fast that could pierce the body. She’d been warned that those monsters especially liked to attack new mothers and steal their babies.

Mum’s mind was abuzz with these thoughts and warnings but she didn’t let it slow her down. Her son’s life and her own depended on her successful escape.

This orangutan mother was not going to let humans and their guns win the battle – not this time!

Orangutan

*Note: Orangutans are considered critically endangered because of deforestation and many other similar human errors – one of them being the murder of mother orangutans so their infants can be sold as pets.

(Discover Challenge: Opening Line)

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Meeting a Fence Head-On

A decade and four years ago I learned to ride a motor scooter – well, I tried.

Since then I’ve often wondered why a couple of semi-sane parents would buy their daughter a scooter when she has, in the past, very often and quite painfully displayed a penchant for being a klutz.

It’s not like they woke up one morning and went, “Maybe we should help her overcome her klutziness and the best way to do that is to put her on the road in control of a slow-moving vehicle.”

Umm, maybe that’s what they actually did because I soon was the surprised but proud owner of a scooter which, thanks to my petite frame and skinny structure, weighed a ton.

I wasn’t going to let that get in my way, though. I quickly found myself perched precariously on my brand new scooter. My childhood sporadic bicycle-riding moments rose heroically to the rescue and helped me to keep the scooter vertical and moving in a relatively straight line till I got to the end of my quiet lane.

But, gulp! How do I turn this thing around? Did I mention it weighed a gazillion tons?

So, there I was, calculating the axis of rotation and other totally irrelevant things in my head, when my scooter decided to take matters in hand. It decided it had had enough of my clumsy handling. It wanted to stop and smell the roses and unfortunately for me, the roses that grew closest to the road were the ones overhanging a neighbor’s fence.

Now this was no ordinary wooden fence. This was a sturdy metallic fence with absolutely no give to it. You could see into the garden through it and, as a result, the roses were clearly visible too.

Before I knew what was happening, my scooter had raced to the fence closest to the roses and met up quite forcefully with it. There was a loud resounding thud and a fraction of a second later, my rose-obsessed scooter and I were both smack down on the ground, in close association with that aforementioned metallic fence.

Let’s just say it took me a long while to live that one down, especially as many of my neighbors came to help my scooter and me up.

I haven’t been a big fan of scooters or metallic fences since that day. But it did help my parents realize that putting me in charge of a moving vehicle on 2 tires was not the brightest plan when I didn’t have a successful history of being adept on 2 legs.

(One-word prompt: Fence)

Stepping Off the Harbor of Safety

There is a path that leads forever and on.

It ran past brickwork houses and medieval stone-worked churches. It ran into and out of cheerful schools and busy offices. It meandered past other paths and occasionally accompanied them for a while before continuing on its merry way.

I’ve walked down that path and it’s led me here – to the edge of the Sea of Uncertainty. But I am not perturbed, for I can see that my ship, Lord Father’s Arms, is docked and prepared for departure.

I am aware that the voyage will be a difficult one. I have been warned of the storms and whirlpools that frequent this section of the sea. But I have faith in my ship and its captain. It has seen such trifles before and it has come out on top.

My Captain knows where to drop me off. I haven’t a clue. I wonder if the ship will lead me from the uncertain waters of the sea to the Ocean of Impossibilities or take me all the way to the end of my voyage and my final home. It may instead dock at a nearby port, one that I don’t know of yet, and I may have another path to travel for a little while longer.

I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter. I am learning to enjoy the journey because He has assured me of the destination.

(One-word prompt: Voyage)

Drawn to the Flame

She was on her way home when she first caught a glimpse of him.

He was the most beautiful little thing she had ever seen. In a world where everything seemed dulled by the ordinary, where all around her was a world colored in grays and blacks, this little being shone as a beacon of the extraordinary.

She came closer, just to watch the little one better. If she could express her emotion in words at right that moment, she’d have said it was awe she felt. This overwhelming emotion of absolute wonder mixed in with a little fear could be nothing else but that.

He was a such a jolly little being. He shone with an inner glow she had never seen in anyone before. He was smiling and merrily dancing away to an inner rhythm only he could hear. Could she hear the rhythm too if she moved just a bit closer? The little one hadn’t noticed her yet. So, she stealthily moved just a little closer.

She still couldn’t hear his song but she could see him better. In fact, she was close enough now to feel the warmth of his smile. If she moved closer would a little of his glow rub off on her? Would she become extraordinary like him if she just touched him for a second? It couldn’t hurt the little fella, she convinced herself. So she inched closer again and reached forward to gently touch his yellow head.

“Wow! That’s one huge moth but it’s a little too close to that candle’s flame. Shoo! Go away! Don’t you know any better?”

(One-word prompt: Candle)

Wishing for Summer

Summer is half a year and/or half the world away from me right now.

I live in the southern hemisphere and for those of us here, today is the winter solstice. I look out my window and see dark, grey skies carrying the weight of rain-filled clouds. I look down at myself and can barely hold back a grin at the number of layers I am clad in – my fingers and nose are the only parts of me that aren’t wrapped up… yet. That’s how cold it is today.

But I don’t need to wait half the year for summer to come around again nor do I have to get on a plane to reach a place in the throes of summer. I just need to put my over-worked imagination to good use again.

I can just shut my eyes and visualize in my head Summer’s vivid blue skies guiding to light the rich profusion of flowers in my neighbors’ gardens; I can watch my now lonely garden turn into temporary homes for birds of innumerable species; I can hear the noisy chatter ringing up in the trees and down in the burrows; I can slowly recall Summer flooding to life in multi-colour at the back of my shut eyelids.

And then I start to remember the downside of Summer – the hot, sweltering days and nights; the thirst that chases me down till I am ready to cry in surrender but my body lacks the fluids to implement my desire; the layer of skin that painfully protests my sun-exposed walk from the garage to the front door, etc. Yikes!

Hmm, I think I was under the influence of the dreaded syndrome called ‘Thegrassis greenerontheotherside’. My eyes are wide open now and I realize how much I enjoy this season that is Winter too.

So, Winter, good to have you here.

And Summer, see you soon!

(One-word prompt: Summer)

Watching the World Pass By

I have been travelling.

I’ve been up a mountain and at a beach through the course of the last 3 days and I have seen so much my head has still not processed all that my eyes have taken in. What a delightful predicament to be in!

I’ve seen rolling hills of vivid green, dotted with grazing cattle. I’ve seen lambs gambolling in large fields and I’ve seen llamas look up at our whizzing car with jaundiced eyes. I remember plastering my nose up against the window to watch when a pair of rambunctious kangaroos decided to escort us a few miles. Everywhere I looked all I saw was a land filled to the brim with life – flora and fauna.

And then, I remember driving through lands radiant in shades of browns and blacks. I saw carcasses from roadkill through my car window. We drove for ages without setting eyes on a single sign of obvious life. I saw, what appeared to be, a land devoid of life and inhabitants of any sort – until a pair of camouflaged birds took to the air.

I saw a sea frothing at the mouth and I saw the same sea gently lapping a sandy shore. I saw birds I’ve seen all my life and some whose colorful existence were a lovely surprise.

I saw a whole lot more this last weekend but what I retained from the trip was the impression that our God is an incomparable artist. What supreme imagination it must take to conjure up such opposing vistas in the head, and then to speak them into creation; to create beauty that touches not just the senses but also all the hidden recesses of the head and heart; to create hills and seas that can dwarf the cares of the viewers with the reminder that His magnificence is not limited.

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”  Job 12:7-10

Reader, the God who created the mighty mountain that I saw also created that small flowering shrub outside your window. Whom I saw in the Aussie outback, you can see in your backyard because He made them all. It helped me put into perspective the worries my heart were carrying. How does one hold on to those when every living being in the vicinity is loudly declaring His power and presence?  🙂

“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.”   Psalm 145:5

 

My Imaginary Friend

I have a friend who I always adore – well, almost always. She and I – we have a special connection. She is as much a part of me as my limbs or my frizzy hair are – she’s just not that obvious to you.

She is my Imagination. She came into the world all wide-eyed and curious when I arrived, and kept educating herself all these years. But what fascinates me the most about her is this weird ability of hers to be in two places at the same time. She is never far from me but she is also always travelling. She taps into the memories of all that I have ever read or seen or gathered, and she goes visiting the people or places there. When she gets bored of all that, she makes up imaginary worlds and visits those as well. So cool!

Each of us are born with our own strengths. The older we grow, the more our strengths grow with us. They watch us figuring life out and internalize those life lessons themselves to share with us when next we are in need of it. And then at some point during the course of our lives, and if we are lucky it’ll be early on, they turn into assets. They stop being silent spectators gathering information and turn into our strongest allies. They want to see us break out of mediocrity and into the realm of the successful.

Imagination is one my strengths. She watches over me as I sit in front of a blank screen and whispers encouragingly to get me to move my lazy fingers. She knows when I am at a standstill (I think I make it a little too obvious when I start banging my head in frustration on the study desk.) and pulls out some hidden gem from her repertoire of experiences and flings it into sight. I grasp it gratefully and run with it.

Of course, she also has a nasty sense of humor that I do not appreciate. Come on, highlighting strange noises and creepy shadows in the dark immediately after convincing me to watch a horror flick is just not funny. We really should have a conversation about that – she and I.

What do you consider your strength, Reader? Ever felt grateful for its presence? 🙂

(Word prompt: Connected)

The Lock of Hair – A Last Reminder

It’s barely 7 a.m and she’s already awake.

If you saw her right now, you’d see only that smile of hers, the one that could rival the sunshine outside her window. You wouldn’t know she had a difficult night. She doesn’t care about that. Her gaunt body clad in once-fitting pajamas and her little bald head will barely be noticed in the face of that gorgeous grin – all because it is her 10th birthday. She made it to the double digit!

She knows today’s her day – and not because of the dreaded illness. She’s glad the doctors let her come home. She didn’t like it at the hospital. She likes her room and all the toys she collected and filled her room with through the years. She would have liked to have friends over but her mom told her infection could be a problem – so no friends. But there will be lots of phone calls today – all happy ones to wish her and not sad ones checking up on her condition. She likes happy calls! Then her dad is going to sing her a special song, one he made up just for her. Her mom is baking a huge cake and her little brother is going to be less of a pest today – he promised.

Oh and there’s the gifts. She hasn’t a clue what to expect. No one has breathed a word about her gifts to her yet, not even her brother, and she’s always been able to talk him into spilling. She spends a couple of minutes wondering if she’s losing her touch but then convinces herself it’s because he’s not permitted to spend a lot of time with her. He could pass on some germs to her too.

Her little body is already tired but she’s promised herself she’d do all she could to eke out as much fun out of the day as she can. There’s so much happening today. Why can’t mom just come in with her breakfast and start the day officially already?

Down the hall is another room. Behind the shut door, Mom and Dad sit huddled together on the bed. Dad holds in his hand a lock of their daughter’s hair – vividly black and intensely smooth. It was one of the first locks to fall after the chemo. They know now that this lock, some videos and some cartons of photographs are all they’ll have of her when her birthday comes around next year.

No words are spoken there but the room is loud with the interplay of emotions. But those emotions will remain locked in that room when Mom and Dad step out with painted smiles on drawn faces to celebrate their daughter’s special day.

 

*Dedicated to the courageous spirit of all those who fight the battle with cancer – either as a cancer warrior or the family member. Also in memory of our little niece who fought bravely till she was called to be with the Lord a couple of weeks ago.

(Smooth)

Through Eyes of Red

I love my life. What’s not to love?

I enjoy travelling and I get to go everywhere. There is no palace, no suburb, no country, no continent, I have not visited. You think you’ve been to places? Hah! If I were a photographer and kept notes of every place I’ve been, you’d see I was the pro.

I love to meet people – babies, teens, adults and the elderly, I enjoy them all. Most people I meet are quick to embrace me. Often, I arrive at a place because I’ve been invited. So, rarely am I ever turned away.

I have a job that I absolutely adore. Sure, it may seem weird to some, but I’m okay with that. I am confident in myself. I like the way I look and am always en vogue – the swirling mists of red that wrap me in a warm cocoon no matter the weather comforts me wherever I go. But I wish you could see the real me. Unfortunately, often when I visit one of you, you are so distracted with yourselves and your imagined grievances, that you don’t actually see me.

You do, however, know me by name. I am Anger.

It’s strange when I see you sometimes enjoying falling under my spell, even when I am not actually casting one. I really only want to do my job well – prevent you from bottling up your emotions. I only want you to stop wearing a mask of diplomacy while your insides are twirling in hate. I want you to step up and talk it out, to solve what’s causing you to feel the anger. But you all get so involved and distracted by my presence that you forget there is a healthy balance. You aren’t supposed to drink me in like the choicest wine and imbibe in violent outbursts. You give me a bad name!

I am just trying to do my job – to see you talk a problem through with your fellow human, to escort you through the maze of emotions you feel when faced with betrayal and other negative emotions. But let me reiterate, I am NOT one of them. I am here for your good, but learn to respect my presence.

Learn, humans, that everything in life should be in moderation. So accept me when I visit you but also learn to know when to stop using me as an excuse – your actions are your responsibility, not my fault.

(One-word prompt – Angry)