Sad News

Sad News

cryingtelephone1I put down the phone and wiped away a tear. I left my office and headed upstairs. As I approached the landing by the front door, I was almost bowled over by my Old Dwarf, who was barreling down the stairs. “Ah, there ye be, lass! Yer mister be wantin’ ta knowed iffin ye be ready fer some lunch.”

I nodded, half-heartedly. “I suppose so.”

My Old Dwarf furrowed his brow and gave me a sharp look. “Summat be bodderin’ ye, lass? Ye still be feelin’ sick?

I shook my head. “No, I’m pretty sure I’m well over my bout of pneumonia now. I’ve finished with both of my prescriptions, most of my congestion has cleared, and I’m breathing a lot better.”

“But summat be wrong.” It was a statement rather than a question.

I nodded. “I have some news to share. Will everyone be at lunch?”

dwarfThe rotund figure stroked his beard, and scrunched up his face in concentration. “Wale, I be thinkin’ tha Annoyin’ One an’ ’is cohort mighten be eatin’ alone, out in their sank-tee-ary in tha shed, but e’eryone elsens oughtten be at tha table, an’ be waitin’ on ussins right now.”

I nodded and trudged up the remaining steps in silence, the dwarf trailing behind.

My Old Dwarf took his seat at the table, and loudly hushed everyone. I stood behind my chair and looked around the table.

 

“What is it, Mistress?” Cleric gave me an appraising look. “You seem distressed.”Anna

I nodded. “I just got off the phone with Anna.”

Colton“Colton’s mother?” My Gypsy furrowed his brow.

I nodded again. “She called about Colton’s pony, Peaches, who we initially knew as Mystery.” I swallowed hard. “Anna wanted to let us know Peaches passed away at the end of February.”

shaggy pony 2

(The saga of Mystery started with the December 31, 2017 blog, https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2017/12/31/mystery/ and continued each week until the mystery was solved in the March 25, 2018 blog https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/03/25/mystery-solved/)

Everyone looked shocked. There was a chorus of comments from around the table. “Oh, no!” “Not Mystery!” “Not Peaches!” How did it happen?” “Colton must be devastated.”

I sighed. “Anna said that the vet performed a necropsy, and it appears the pony died of natural causes. Peaches was very old and had not been doing well this winter. Anna said she had the vet out numerous times for the pony, for ailments ranging from colic to a serious respiratory infection that resulted in heaves.”

mens-991728_1280My Foreman looked shocked. “The animal looked vigorous and robust the last time we saw her.”

I agreed. “But that was seven months ago, before the hard winter took its toll on her health.”

Young Hero cryingMy Young Hero slumped in his chair and swiped at a tear that leaked from the corner of his eye. His voice was raspy. “What is Colton going to do without that pony?”

Colton riding Peaches barebackI shook my head. “I don’t know. The pony was Colton’s eyes. Being blind from birth, Colton felt very isolated, even though he participated in some school activities. Anna confided in me that the other kids didn’t go out of their way to include Colton in their plans. With Peaches, the boy felt like he had some independence, and felt the equal of his peers. He was able to go on trail rides with the other kids. He was even talking about joining 4-H.”Young Hero crying

“I recall our trail ride with Colton and his mom. It was hard to remember he was blind, watching how confidently he rode Peaches.” My Young Hero’s words caught in his throat, and he wiped away another tear.

gypsy-facing-rightMy Gypsy nodded. “I wish we had taken the opportunity to ride with him again. I really like Colton, and enjoyed our friendly competition identifying birds by ear.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/09/02/an-old-mystery-revisited/

“Well, maybe Colton will be able to get a new pony eventually. Anna said she tried to talk to him about it, but it’s too soon. He doesn’t want to think about another pony.”

Cleric cryingColton and Peaches 2“Even if he decides at some point in the future he wants another pony, it will be hard to replace Peaches.” Cleric dabbed at her eyes, wet with unshed tears. “She was such a remarkable animal!”

I nodded. “She was, but there are other horses trained to work with handicapped riders. Anna’s going to call the facility that trained Peaches and see if they have any other ponies available.”

Milesstadium jumpingMiles furrowed his brow. “I don’t know a lot about horses, but I do remember seeing a program on television about a blind rider. He competed in stadium jumping. The thing that sticks out in my mind is the way the rider had to use vocal cues from other people stationed around the arena in order to know in which direction to ride, and when to prepare for a jump.”

I nodded. “I remember seeing that program, too.”

“But you said Colton used to ride Peaches out on the trail, sometimes even going out alone.”Colton riding Peaches bareback

Again I nodded.

Miles rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, Peaches must have been trained more like a seeing-eye dog. She must have been aware of all the various dangers and situations they could encounter on the trail and know how to keep her rider safe. Otherwise, Colton could have been knocked off the pony by overhanging branches, or he could have fallen if the pony did something unexpected, like jump a small obstacle on the trail.”

Cleric dabbed at her eyes again. “I told you that pony was a very remarkable animal! She will be all but impossible to replace.”

DwarfElf cleric“Mebbe the beastie here kin be illusionin’ a pony fer tha lad.” My Old Dwarf pointed at Dragon. “She been creatin’ illusory horsies fer yer Foreman and tha two lads, and she been makin’ some fer tha rest o ye who been on tha trail ride with ’em. She could be illusionin’ a horsie wot can be doin’ all tha thin’s tha other horsie useta been able ta be doin’ ta be keepin’ its rider safe-like. An’ wit’ a make-believe horsie, tha laddie would na e’er be havin’ ta be worryin’ aboot it be gittin’ sick or be diein’.”

I raked my hand through my hair and heaved a huge sigh. “That’s a very kind, compassionate idea, old friend, but I don’t think it wise to be creating illusions for outsiders, for people who do not understand whence you all came, and what powers some of you wield.”

“I agree.” Dragon nodded.

Elf facing right“Well, we have to find some way to help Colton find a new pony!” Cleric squared her shoulders and set her jaw.Stu-04-NatGal

“And how do you propose to do that?” Sorceress lifted an eyebrow at her friend.

Cleric tossed her head defiantly. “I do not know. But we will. We must!”

How will Cleric and the others help Colton? Come back next week and see if they come up with any ideas. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

Practicing With Mistress Writer’s Magic Box

Practicing With Mistress Writer’s Magic Box

Elf facing rightHello, cherished readers! Cleric here. I fear the news this week is not encouraging. Both Mistress Writer and Master Miles are still sick.

Mistress Writer returned to her doctor for what is termed a follow-up. She came home with two new medications in addition to what she was already taking. Master Miles’ doctor also put him on several new medications. They both have strict orders to rest during their respective recuperations, so Mistress Writer was unable to prepare this week’s blog.

Cleric caring for sick Mistress and Mastercamera for blogI devoted much of my time this week to caring for Mistress Writer and Master Miles, administering their medications and preparing their meals. In my spare time, however, I practiced using Mistress Writer’s magic box, the one she calls a camera. About a month ago, Mistress Writer starting teaching me and my fellow characters how to use this device, but this is the first time since then I had the opportunity to practice. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/03/24/magic-or-technology/

Cleric and camerabirdwatchingMistress Writer loves to observe the birds who visit our yard, something she has been unable to do during her illness. Therefore, I decided to surprise her by using her magic box . . . er, her camera . . . to capture images of the birds on our deck and in our yard. That way, she can enjoy them once she has recovered from her malady. I hope you will enjoy them, too.

Directly after Mistress Writer took ill, we had one last, big snowstorm. I was surprised to see a Red-breasted Nuthatch visit our deck in the snow. They are not a common visitor to our yard.

Another surprise was the female Wood Duck who came right up onto the deck to eat alongside some American Robins. Normally very shy, she ignored my presence as she gobbled up as much food as she could.

The flock of more than 100 American Robins that over-wintered in our neighborhood thinned out once the snow was gone, but many robins still visit our yard and deck.

The Dark-eyed Juncos, whom I have come to expect here in the winter, have extended their stay, still coming to the yard and the deck even though all the snow has melted.

The Common Grackles have returned from their winter homes. I love the way their feathers iridesce in the sunlight.

 

Another bird who has returned is the European Starling. Mistress Writer does not care for this bird, as it is an invasive species that harms many of the native songbirds, but I still find it beautiful.

European Starling

The Red-winged Blackbirds are back as well – the very recognizable male with his red epaulettes, and the delicately beautiful female, a much plainer brown bird.

 

We have numerous woodpeckers in the yard, ranging in size from the diminutive Downy to the immense Pileated.

The male Northern Cardinal has been serenading us each morning from his perch in a neighbor’s tree.Northern Cardinal

I had to ask the Gypsy lad to identify a hawk that has been worrying our backyard songbirds. He said it is a Cooper’s Hawk who has been eyeing the small birds from the trees and even venturing onto the deck railing to hunt them.

Since all the ice on the pond has melted, we once again are enjoying a number of waterfowl, including a small raft of Bufflehead.

Buffleheads

Numerous Mallards have been swimming in the pond and visiting the back yard in search of food.

PhotographerCleric and camera 2I know I am not as skilled as Mistress Writer in capturing images of the birds who visit us, or in describing them for you, but I hope you have enjoyed my efforts. And I hope Mistress Writer will be well enough to prepare next week’s blog. Thank you, cherished readers, for allowing me to entertain you in her absence.

Please come back next week and see if Mistress Writer has recovered. We will leave the porch light on for you.

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Characters I Write About and Characters I Write

Characters I Write About and Characters I Write

Young hero 2

NightmareI didn’t get a chance to talk to Dragon for the better part of a week. Thankfully, it was a fairly quiet week. My Young Hero no longer seemed to be wrestling with nightmares. If he was, he was doing it quietly.

Smoke drifting from Dragon's snoutOn Friday, I found Dragon in the conference room, shivering in front of her illusory fireplace. She greeted me with a growl.

“Nice to see you, too.” I frowned. “I’ve been looking for you all week. I need to talk to you.”

Dragon’s eyes narrowed dangerously, the tip of her tail started twitching, and acrid smoke puffed from her snout. “I do not wish to talk. I wish to warm myself.”

I scoffed. “You’ve made this room hotter than a dwarven forge with your illusory fireplace!”

Dragon nodded solemnly. “It is my only defense against your Minnesota weather. What happened to spring? Last week, the temperatures were just starting to rise to comfortable levels, and some flowers had started sprouting.” The unhappy beast scowled at me. “Then the ice and sleet and snow came again, and the temperatures are frigid!”

I laughed. “Oh, come now! The temperatures aren’t that bad, at least not by Minnesota standards, and the slush is already starting to melt. By Sunday, it should all be gone.”

“For how long?” The despondent creature hung her head and looked miserable.

“Hopefully until next winter, but in Minnesota, you never can tell. The latest snow ever recorded in MN was June 4, 1935, when one and a half inches fell in northern Minnesota.”

“Oh, you are just full of fascinating minutiae.” Dragon glowered at me.

I raised an eyebrow and chuckled. “Funny, you don’t look fascinated.” Before Dragon could respond, I quickly pressed on. “But I didn’t want to discuss the weather. It’s not like we can do anything about it anyway.”

Dragon growled and thumped her tail on the floor. “I have offered more than once to change your weather to something more agreeable.”

“And I told you that is not an option.”

“Did you?” Dragon gave me a coy look. “I am afraid I do not remember.”

“Funny thing, memory.” I steepled my fingers and gazed at Dragon. “And that’s exactly the topic I wish to discuss.”

“Oh?” The big beast looked interested in spite of herself.

I nodded and took a seat in the recliner, pausing a few moments to gather my thoughts.

manuscript“Dragon, do you recall when you fell from my manuscript and entered this world?”

Dragon frowned. “Of course, I do. It has been a number of years, but I clearly remember the look on your face when you entered your office and found me sitting at your desk.”

I smiled at the memory. “Ah, yes! I remember that day, too. You weren’t the first of my characters to make the passage from book to reality, so it wasn’t as much a shock as it could have been. Still…”

Dragon in officeThe memory of the scaly creature sitting on the arm of my chair, shock and disapproval clearly etched on her reptilian face as she surveyed the chaos I call an office, still made me chuckle.

I shook my head and dragged myself back to the conversation at hand. “But I am really more interested in your memories of the world from which you came. Do you remember what you were doing when you fell from the manuscript?”

Dragon frowned. She rolled onto her stomach and tucked her front arms under her chest, assuming a sphinx-like pose. She tilted her head in thought and remained silent for a long time before replying. “No. No, I do not.”

“What memories do you have of your previous existence?”

Dragon studied my face. “Why do I get the feeling it is not my memories that concern you?”

I ducked my head guiltily. “How easily you can see through me, old friend. You’re right . . . or at least partially correct. I am trying to understand something about a character’s memory once that character has fallen from the manuscript into this world.”

“Any character in particular?”

“Yes, but we can discuss that later. For now, I am curious about your memories. Since you first arrived here, it has been obvious you and my Old Dwarf share a very special bond.”

dragon and dwarf

 

Dragon nodded. “Indeed, we do.”

I frowned. “Yet, in the two manuscripts I penned, you never met.”

Dragon blinked. “Are you sure?”

I raised an eyebrow.

Dragon scratched her head. “But I have such clear memories.” She paused, then frowned. “Well, maybe not so clear. More like snatches of memories – friendly banter, small gifts the dwarf carved for me.”

I shook my head. “Those events were not part of the stories I chronicled.”

Dragon stared off into the distance. “No… no, I do not suppose they were. I was just a very young dragon then, barely more than a wyrmling.”

I wrinkled my brow. “So, if the memories are from before the events in my manuscripts, how is it you can recall them? Remember, you are not the Dragon about whom I wrote. You are the Dragon I wrote, the Dragon I created in my books. And the only memories you should have are the events in the book from which you fell.”

dragondragon-1964202_960_720Dragon pondered. “I believe I may have an explanation. The Great Wyrm. I believe she is the Dragon about whom you wrote, only much further along in her life than when you wrote about her. I believe she may have inadvertently shared some of her memories with me when she and I crossed paths.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2017/10/01/waiting-to-see-if-it-worked/

I raised my eyebrow. I was surprised she had worked that out. I put that tidbit of information aside and continued the conversation. “I see.” I sighed. “Well, that solves that mystery, but it doesn’t help me understand recent events regarding my Young Hero and his memories. Unlike you, he seems to be missing memories he should have.”missing memories

“Oh? Enlighten me.”

I raked my hand through my hair. “You remember my Young Hero recently suffered a spate of nightmares.”
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/03/31/nightmares/    and
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/04/07/do-heroes-have-nightmares/

Dragon nodded and frowned, a puff of black smoke escaping her nostrils. “Yes. He should have come to me for help.”

I waved at her dismissively. “Perhaps, but he was embarrassed. You know, a hero being frightened by bad dreams.”

“Ah, yes. He felt a hero should be brave enough to face his nightmares.” Dragon nodded sagely.fear vs heroism

“Exactly. But when he described his dreams to me, he said they were people and images he thought he should know but didn’t. He felt they were snatches of memories he could not clearly recall. From his descriptions, however, I recognized them as scenes from my first manuscript. I assume my Young Hero fell from my second book, as he has very clear memories of various people and events from that book – the Innkeeper, the snowball fight with my Gypsy . . .”
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2016/12/18/vacation-is-over/

Dragon nodded again. “So, you wonder why he has no memories predating the second book, even though you wrote about your Young Hero in the first book as well.”

“Exactly.”

Dragon shrugged. “You answered your own question. It is as you said of me, Mistress Writer. I am not the Dragon about whom you wrote. I am the Dragon you wrote, the one you created.”

I frowned, not understanding.

Young hero 2Young Hero passing out“Well, neither is your Young Hero the hero about whom you wrote. He is the hero you wrote, the hero you created. But, having fallen from your second manuscript, he is also not the hero you wrote in your first book. So, his memories would not be the memories of that hero. Those memories would be but an echo in his subconscious.”

I blinked. “I think I understand. You know, I may have to go back to my manuscripts and rewrite you. I don’t think I made you nearly as wise and insightful as you really are.”

Dragon smiled smugly. “Does that mean I can go back to warming myself by the fire, while you go change me in your book to a creature more closely resembling my most splendiferous self?”Dragon looks up from fireplace

I chuckled. “Go back to your fire, old friend. I’ll try not to disturb you again until spring is really here.”

“I can make that happen any time you say.” The big beast winked at me.

Be sure to come back next week and see what is happening with my little band of displaced characters. We might be in the middle of a heat wave by then. You never can tell about the weather in Minnesota, especially if a Dragon is involved. And, of course, we’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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Elf facing rightHello, cherished readers. Cleric here. Shortly after the completion of this week’s blog, Mistress Writer went to see her doctor. (Why she never allows me to treat her, I cannot understand!) Mistress Writer has been diagnosed with pneumonia, and is undergoing treatment. Master Miles is experiencing heavy chest congestion and will see his doctor this week. We all hope Mistress Writer will be able to continue her duties preparing this blog for your entertainment; however, it may be a while before she is up to such strenuous activity. If we are absent for a time, please know we have not forgotten you, and we look forward to returning with more adventures and misadventures.

Do Heroes Have Nightmares?

Do Heroes Have Nightmares?

wide-eyedangry eyesI gaped at my Young Hero. Rarely had I seen this easy-going half-dwarf lad so upset. Never had I seen his ire directed at me.

I tried to keep my voice even. “What do you mean, I should know? Just what should I know?”

The lad continued to glare at me. “You should know what is going on. Are you not The Writer, The Scribe, The Chronicler? Are you not the one who knows everything about every one of your characters, even things we do not know about ourselves?”

Before I was able to compose a retort, my Young Hero stomped out the door and headed toward the barn. I stood there watching him, my mouth hanging open. Finally, I turned to my Gypsy. “What is he talking about?”

magic energy tracegypsy-facing-rightMy Gypsy lowered his eyes and shuffled his feet. “He has been dreaming about his past life, his life back in our own world. At least, that is what he thinks the dreams are. He . . . he has not been able to understand the dreams. He sees mere snippets of scenes in his dreams, moments that he feels are snatches of memories . . . memories he cannot fully recall. He is confused, frustrated . . . and more than a tad fearful.”

“I see.” I raked my hand through my hair and heaved a huge sigh. “I’m not sure how I can help him.”

My Gypsy rolled his eyes and scoffed. “As he said, Mistress, you are The Writer. If you cannot help him, then who?”

I had no answer.

* * *

Young hero 2Chocolate palomino pony 3While my Gypsy and I were talking about him, my Young Hero had stomped down the steps and had headed toward the barn. He had ducked between the wooden rails of the pasture fence and walked over to his pony, a saucy little chocolate palomino. He patted the pony, and the animal nuzzled his young master, nickering contentedly. As he stood there stroking the animal, the boy could feel much of the tension leave his body. After a few minutes, he walked over to the barn, intending to get a brush to groom the pony. Instead, the exhausted boy collapsed onto a bale of hay.

Palomino ponyThe boy awoke, his pony nudging him and whickering. He opened his eyes, and saw the golden pony standing over him. He stood up and patted the small yellow creature.

The pony turned and started walking away, through the emerald pasture. The boy followed the pony.

canyonThe landscape wavered. They were in a canyon. Something big was chasing the boy through the canyon, something big enough to kick up a huge cloud of red dust. The boy ran as fast as he could. He could hear two voices in the canyon, calling him. He knew these voices but could not quite remember to whom they belonged. Before he could identify the voices, their yells turned to screams and their screams mingled with the screams of his pony.

The screams went on and on and on.

* * *

“Wake up!”

foremanyoung-hero-facing-leftMy Foreman shook my Young Hero, first gently, then with more force. “Come on, wake up!”

My Young Hero jumped up and looked around. He was still in the barn. He could see his chocolate palomino pony through the open door. “Wha . . . what happened?”

“You tell me.” My Foreman frowned at him. “I was just coming out to work my horse, and I heard you in here screaming.”

Backyard 050“I heard you too, all the way up in the house.” I rushed to my Young Hero’s side and reached out to touch his shoulder, but he shrugged me away.

I sighed. “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s happening.”

Without a word, my Young Hero turned and walked away.

* * *

Going into cliff wallghost in caveThe young half-dwarf touched the wall of the cliff. His hand went right through the stone. He pushed forward, and his whole body passed through the rocks, emerging in a dark cavern. A ghostly figure approached him, coming closer, closer, closer, until the boy screamed in terror.

* * *

“What is that caterwauling?” Dragon stomped into the living room, smoke drifting from her reptilian snout.

I ran into the room right behind her. “It’s my Young Hero. I think he’s having another nightmare.”

Dragon shaking Young Hero awakeDragon reached the prone figure on the couch and shook him awake. “Why did you not seek my help if you have been having nightmares?”

Instead of answering, my Young Hero glared at me.

Dragon looked from the boy, to me, and back again. “Well? Will someone tell me what is happening?”

My Young Hero attempted to stomp off again, but Dragon snagged him by the collar with one of her talons.

The smoke spewing from her snout grew darker, and she narrowed her eyes dangerously. “What is going on?”

The boy snarled. “Ask her.”

“I am asking you.” Dragon’s tone invited no argument.

I placed a hand on her arm. “It’s okay. Let him go.”

I turned to my Young Hero. “I don’t know what you think I know, but any time you want to talk, you know where to find me.”

* * *

The young half-dwarf was walking his pony across a meadow. Another boy, taller and of human heritage, walked with him, leading a larger version of the golden steed. Suddenly, the two boys saw something disappearing down a large hole under a fallen log. The half-dwarf leapt on his pony and raced toward the hole to see what was there.

The human boy swiftly mounted and rode his horse between the boy and the hole. “No! You cannot go with him! I will not allow it!”

The hole disappeared, and the human galloped away. The half-dwarf rode after him, pushing his pony to the limits of his speed and endurance. “Wait! Wait! Why will you not wait for me?”

The half-dwarf and his pony fell farther and farther behind the other horse and rider. Finally, the youth pulled his mount to a stop, slid from his pony, and fell to the ground, sobbing.

Why won't you wait

* * *

I walked into my office and found my Young Hero waiting for me. He sat on the edge of a chair, his hands clasped tightly in his lap. His tear-stained face was pale and drawn. He jumped up as soon as he heard me enter the room.

“Mistress.” He gave me a beseeching look but said no more.

I nodded and bade him sit. He slowly collapsed back into the chair. I sat at my desk and faced the lad, studying him for many long minutes. He sat, staring at the floor, silent.

Finally, I cleared my throat. “I understand you have been suffering nightmares for several weeks now.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/03/31/nightmares/

I paused, but got no response. “Would you care to tell me about them?” I tried to keep my voice soft and soothing.

“You do not know what I dreamt?” My Young Hero seemed confused.

I raised my hands, palms up, spread my arms, and lifted my shoulders. “How would I?”

He stared at me, wide-eyed. “You are The Writer.”

I raised an eyebrow at the boy. “You’ve said that to me before. I don’t know what you think a writer does, but my skill as a wordsmith does not grant me clairvoyance.”

“But you have written about the things that happened to me, to all your characters, in our own world.” He scooted to the edge of his seat again and looked at me earnestly.

I nodded. “I have, but not through clairvoyance or any preternatural means. I simply documented what happened.”

My Young Hero furrowed his brow and chewed on his lower lip. “Mistress, I cannot remember all that happened to me. I have been seeing things in my dreams that I feel . . . nay, that I fear may have happened to me, but I cannot recall.”

He told me of his dreams, the snippets of scenes his sleep-fogged brain had seen.

“And you think these dreams may actually be memories attempting to surface?”

The lad nodded.

I narrowed my eyes and stared intently at the lad. “Do you have any recollection of your previous life? Any at all?”

The boy nodded. “Some. I remember most vividly the things about which my fellow characters and I have spoken. I know that three of us – your Foreman, your Gypsy, and myself – were horsemen in my world. I know my father owned the largest and most successful equestrian breeding and training farm in the kingdom. I know that Cleric was my Protector – something akin to the concept of a godparent in your world, only with equal emphasis on physical protection and spiritual guidance. I know your Gypsy was my best friend. I know we spent a lot of time in an inn, and our friend, the Innkeeper, made a stew so renowned, the king himself used to come to the inn to sup.”

He paused, furrowing his brow as if trying to dredge up other memories. He shook his head. “Other than that, I have little knowledge of myself.”

I tilted my head and studied the boy. “Are you certain this is all you remember?”

He nodded.

I squirmed in my chair. “Is it necessary for you to know more?”

The boy sat, pondering. Finally, he looked me straight in the eye. “Yes, Mistress, I think it is. The dreams I have had – the people and events seem familiar, as if they are a part of my past, not a construct of my imagination.”

manuscriptI sighed heavily. “You know each of you – the characters who have fallen from my manuscripts and now reside here in this world – each of you fell from a different spot in the manuscripts. I do not know the exact moment at which any of you left the story.”

My Young Hero tilted his head and mulled over that information, then nodded.

I stood up and paced the length of the room. “Then you know I cannot reveal more than you already know.”

The boy frowned. “Why? If all of us characters get together and compare what we know, those of us who fell out of an earlier part of the manuscripts will discover what happened after.”

I nodded, hoping he did not notice the beads of sweat that were forming on my forehead. “Perhaps. Perhaps not. I certainly cannot prevent you from doing just that. But remember, none of you know all that happened. You each know only the tale from your own perspective. Even if you had fallen from the last page of the manuscripts, you would know little more than you know now – much of your stories remain unwritten. There are several more books for me to pen.”

My Young Hero slumped in his chair, disappointment written clearly in his face. Finally, he rose and headed for the door but stopped half-way there. He turned and looked at me. “Can you reveal but one thing to me, Mistress? There is one thing I must know.”

“What is it?”

“Why do you call me a Young Hero? I do not remember any heroics in my past life, and I certainly have done nothing heroic in this world. And the fear engendered by the nightmares that plague me points more to cowardice than heroism.” He stared at the floor, and continued in a timid voice. “Mistress, how could a hero have nightmares?”

fear vs heroismI pursed my lips and rubbed the back of my neck. “Fear and heroism are not mutually exclusive; nor is fear solely the province of cowards. Suffice it to say, the best definition of a hero I ever read was in a publication called Psychology Today. I keep the quote here on the wall over my desk. See?” I pointed to the memo on the wall.

What actually makes a hero? I’d argue it’s the willingness to make a personal sacrifice for the benefit of others.”

Framed quote in office

I paused, giving my Young Hero time to ponder that quote. After a moment, I continued. “Without revealing any details, I can assure you that you are the most heroic person I know. You sacrificed more than most for the benefit of others, for people you did not even know. Some of what you sacrificed was ripped from you by others, by happenstance, by fate. Some of what you sacrificed you surrendered yourself, knowing full well what you were giving up.”

I approached my Young Hero and placed my hand on his shoulder. “Wear the title proudly, Young Hero. Never doubt but you have earned it a hundred times over.”

A smile slowly spread over the boy’s face. When he turned and left the room, he held himself a little straighter, and there was a new confidence in his step.

Once I heard him going up the stairs, I scurried off to find Dragon.

Why do I need to speak with Dragon? What is it about my Young Hero’s memories that I find so disturbing? Be sure to come back next week as the tale continues. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.