Farewell

Farewell

Are we all in agreementThe tension in the room was palpable.

“Are we all in agreement?” The huge, red dragon looked around the room at her companions. “It must be unanimous.”

Arrogant Elf sneeringThe arrogant elf scoffed, his face twisting into a sneer. “Do you really need to ask? Of course, we are all in agreement!”

Bounty Hunter“Indeed.” The bounty hunter nodded and wiped his hand nervously on his leather leggings. “This is what each of us has hoped for since the day we first found ourselves marooned in this world.”

Cleric pleading“Oh, but things are different now!” The cleric’s cornflower blue eyes were wet, and she held her arms wide toward her companions, beseeching. “We have become accustomed to this world. We are finding it easier and easier to assimilate the customs and speech of this world. We are learning to use technology. We have made friends. How can we think of going back to our own world now? We should stay. We must stay.”

No!” The elf screeched, hitting a pitch that threatened to shatter glass and decibel levels that threatened the same fate for nearby eardrums. “We have nothing here that compensates for the loss of our old lives, back in our own world!”

“If we are missing our own world and our old lives, we can visit the illusory world we created for the foreman.” The cleric pleaded. “There is no need to actually go back home. We can stay here and enjoy the best of both worlds.”

Foreman“No.” The foreman shook his head sadly, his gray eyes clouded. “While I appreciate the effort you all made for me creating that illusion, and while it is a fabulous place, it is but a pale shadow of our world and our former lives there.”

Mace and Gloria and the deputies“But we have responsibilities here now.” The cleric still pleaded. “Who is going to protect Mistress Writer and Master Miles from their neighbors, Mace and Gloria, and from the sheriff’s deputies, Melody Whitewash and Dustin Dawg?”

The dragon waved dismissively at the cleric and chuckled. “With us gone, I highly doubt Mistress Writer and Master Miles will have any further altercations with those people.”

MorcantThe cleric tried again. “What if the evil wizard Morcant returns?”

The dragon narrowed her eyes menacingly. “That one will never escape his tower prison.”

ArthurThe cleric furrowed her brow. “Well, what about Arthur, that horrendous man who runs that writers’ club, Lost in the Words? Surly, Mistress Writer needs protection from him.”

The dragon scoffed. “Crawford and Griff will give her all the protection she needs from that slimy toad.”Crawford and Griff will take care of Arthur

The cleric changed tack and gave the dragon a coy look. “And what about Griff? Will you not miss him . . . and Ollie?”

Griff dual personasThe big beast frowned. “My affinity for Griff was nothing more than the pleasure of finding someone in this world with whom I could communicate in the old ways of my species and his, through a linking of the mind. There will be enough of my own kind back in our world; I will not unduly miss Griff. And as for Ollie . . . well, I admit leaving him behind is a deep regret, but one I will have to bear.”

Ollie

Colton and BlueCleric turned to gypsy, young hero, and foremanThe cleric turned to the Gypsy, the young hero, and the foreman. “And the three of you have no regrets leaving Colton and Blue?”

GypsyThe Gypsy sighed and raked his hand through his hair. “We will miss them, surely, but we have been missing so many from our world – the Innkeeper, the Blacksmith, our Sovereign King, the young hero’s family. We will gladly give up the ones here to reunite with the others there.”

Young Hero facing leftThe young hero agreed, his green eyes shining with fervor. “I have missed my parents and brother so much! Furthermore, I have always had the feeling I was in the middle of something of paramount importance when I fell out of the manuscript into this world. I agree with the Gypsy – we must go home.”

Marisol, Talia, ChristineThe cleric turned back to the dragon. “And what about Marisol? Will you leave her tutoring to Talia and Christine?”

Dragon shrugged. “They know more about Marisol and her powers than do I. The child will be in good hands.”

Cleric looked around the room but found no ally. A tear slipped down her cheek. “But there is so much still to do here. What about the books we have come to enjoy so much? We will never get to read Mistress Rabe’s next Piper Blackwell novel. We will not be here to assist Master Miles as he designs this year’s Christmas Village. We will never again be able to join Mistress Writer on nature hikes and engage in wildlife photography with her. We will not even know whose image and presentation she judged best in last week’s contest.”

Never do again

SorceressThe sorceress walked over to the cleric and took her hands. “Forsooth, there will be things from this world we will miss, people whose absence from our lives will leave a hole in our hearts. But we never really belonged here. We have family and friends in our own world whom we miss and who are missing us. We have things we are supposed to be doing back there. We must go.”

Old DwarfThe old dwarf walked over to the cleric and put his hand on her arm. “Tha magic lass be right, lassie. It do na be makin’ much nevermind how much we be gonna be missin’ this world an’ its people. It do na be makin’ much nevermind how much we be lovin’ Mistress Writer an’ Master Miles. Iffen we kin be goin’ back home . . . back home, lassie! . . . then there be nuttin an’ nobody here wat kin be makin’ it wort’ it ta us ta be stayin’.”

Cleric cryingTears streamed down the cleric’s face. “We . . . we will say goodbye to Mistress Writer and Master Miles, though, will we not? We cannot leave without saying goodbye, without telling them where we are going.”

The dragon shook her head. “It would make it much harder to go. We need to leave. Now.”

The arrogant elf jumped up eagerly. “Then let us proceed.” Suddenly he stopped and stared at the dragon, his eyes narrowing. “You are sure you know what you are doing, are you not?”

Dark smoke“You doubt me, elf?” Dark smoke started to rise from the dragon’s nose.

The elf drew himself up, rocked back on his heels, and grasped his cloak with both hands. “I do not doubt, I question. You have always said there was no way for us to return home. Over the years, you have researched this and made numerous attempts. You decreed it impossible to return to our own world. Are you quite certain of the discovery you have made that you claim will make this possible?”

“I am.”

The elf stared at the beast for several more moments, then nodded curtly. “Then, let us not tarry. Let us bid this place farewell, and return to our own world, our old lives.”

* * *

I awokeThe house felt different this morning when I awoke. It wasn’t just that it was quiet – quieter than I had heard it in a long time. The house felt different. It felt empty. I hurried through my morning ablutions and hurried to the kitchen.

Miles had just finished making breakfast when I arrived in the kitchen. He had it laid out on the counter and I noticed he had only made enough for the two of us.Breakfast

“No one else is joining us for breakfast this morning?” I looked around for some sign of my characters. “Where are the slugabeds? I was hoping to announce the winners of the nature photography and research contest.”

Miles shook his head. “I haven’t seen anyone.” He motioned toward the table. “Oh, by the way, I found these here this morning when I came in to prepare breakfast. What are your manuscripts doing here? Was one of your characters reading them last night?”Manuscripts on table

I shook my head and frowned. “These should be in my office.” I picked them up and something fell from the pages onto the floor.

Miles reached down and picked it up. He looked at it curiously. “What’s this?”

I took it from him, and my heart almost stopped. “It’s . . . it’s a dragon scale.”Dragon scale

Miles looked at it again. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that shade of blue.”

“It’s Dragon’s true color. Here in this world, she was usually red. If she were confused or embarrassed, she would turn a light blue, and if she were angry or annoyed, she might turn black. But in her own world, she was a magnificent, breathtaking shade of deep blue.”

Me, shockedI studied the scale for several minutes. Suddenly, my eyes widened, and I ran downstairs. As soon as I reached the bottom of the stairs, I cried out.

“Honey? Honey, what’s wrong?” Miles ran after me.

Miles shockedI pointed, and Miles followed my gesture. His jaw dropped. “The conference room is gone!”

I nodded. There in front of us, where once there had been a huge room that changed shape and size according to the needs and whims of the magic users who had created it, there now stood just a blank wall.

Blank wall

“What have your characters done now? Did they decide to move it into the shed, or up on the roof?” Miles chuckled.

I shook my head. I rubbed the dragon scale, and a tear slipped down my cheek. “They’re gone, Miles.”

My husband looked stunned. “Gone? Your characters are gone?”

I nodded. “I believe Dragon intentionally left this scale for me with my manuscripts. I’m sure it was her way of letting me know, of saying goodbye.” I turned to my husband. “Miles, my characters found their way back into the books.”

I looked down once more at the deep blue dragon scale in my hand, and mouthed, Farewell, my dear friends! Farewell!Dragon scale

Well, my faithful readers, it has been a long and wonderful adventure, but it was time for my characters to return whence they came. There were no new situations in which to put them, no new ways for them to cause trouble for me and Miles. I hope you have enjoyed my little band of displaced characters and their antics through the years.

This also ends my weekly blog. I may still find things to share with you on occasion, but I am long overdue for a sabbatical. Stay well, and I hope you will have fond memories of my characters. I know I will miss them terribly.

I’ll be turning the porch light off now. I’ll be sure to turn it on again when I return.

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A Birthday Wish Come True

A Birthday Wish Come True

Bastina dropping off MarisolWe had just finished setting up the party in the backyard Saturday morning when Bastina arrived with Marisol. After a quick thank-you to all of us and a reminder to her daughter to mind her manners, our neighbor drove off.

As soon as her mother was out of sight, Marisol dashed to the backyard. The disappointment in her face was obvious. As she turned to Dray, her lower lip quivered, and her eyes grew moist. “Dray? I . . . I thought I was going to see the horses.”

Party was set up“The day is young, child. Be patient.” Dray pointed to the gazebo, festooned with bunting and banners. Refreshments were set out on tables, and a pile of presents awaited the birthday girl.

Marisol’s jaw dropped and her eyes grew round. She slowly walked over to the gazebo, noting the Happy Birthday sign and the tables laden with cakes and beverages. She stopped and pointed to the boxes adorned with festive paper and bows. “Are . . . are these for me?”

Are these for me

Dray nodded. “There is a small something from me among those gifts, but my special present will come later, after refreshments.”

Marisol’s grin stretched ear to ear, and she nodded her understanding to Dray.

Start by opening presents“Happy birthday, Marisol!” I placed my hand on the child’s shoulder. “Why don’t you start by opening these presents, and then we can all have some refreshments before Dray gives you her special present.”

Marisol nodded. The child carefully unwrapped each gift, taking care not to rip the paper. Her eyes lit up when she opened the first gift, a collection of story books and jigsaw puzzles, all featuring horses or dragons.

BD gift for Marisol from everyone else

YH and company with Marisol“We know that horses and dragons are your favorites, and your mom told us you are quite the reader, reading well above your age level, and you love putting jigsaw puzzles together. So, this is from the four of us.” My Young Hero pointed to himself, then gestured to the group around him – my Foreman, my Gypsy, and my Bounty Hunter.

“Oh, thank you! These are wonderful!” Marisol couldn’t stop smiling as she looked through the collection.

BD gift for Marisol from Cleric and SorceressSorceress and Cleric with MarisolThe next gift was a children’s book about herbs and wildflowers. “This is from Clara and me,” Sorceress told Marisol. “Your mother told us you have recently shown an increased interest in this subject. I think you will find the illustrations and anecdotes in this book quite extraordinary.”

“Oh, it is beautiful!” Marisol leafed through the book. “I’ll enjoy it very much! Thank you!”

BD gift for Marisol from me and MilesNext, Marisol opened the gift from me and Miles. “Oh! Binoculars! A book on birdwatching, and a journal to keep a list of the birds I see! Thank you!”

“I remember you saying you enjoy observing the birds. Miles and I thought this might assist you in that activity.”

GoldfinchMarisol tried out the binoculars. “Oh, these are great! I can see a Goldfinch on that feeder pole!” She immediately opened her new journal and laboriously wrote the day, date, and location, along with the name of the bird, twice asking for help with spelling. When she finished, she grinned at me. “I will make great use of this gift!”

BD gift for Marisol from DragonNext, Marisol opened a leather-bound notebook, with her name and a picture of a dragon and a horse on the front. “Oh, this is exquisite!” The child ran her hand over the cover before opening it.

Elf cleric“You can paste pictures in there, or draw images, or write your ideas, your desires, your hopes . . . whatever pleases you.” Dray smiled at Marisol, and the child nodded.

“Thank you! I will treasure this, Dray!”

Marisol reached for the last present on the table, a gift bag. In it were several hand-crafted figurines and a small charm bracelet.

Bastina and Marisol see dwarfOld DwarfMy Old Dwarf stepped up. “I been makin’ tha wristlet fer ye, lass. I be knowin’ ye be right partial ta horsies an’ dragons, but I been includin’ a bunny, too, causin thet be how ye been meetin’ alla usins, when ye been followin’ me when I been chasin’ a bunny rabbit. But I dinna be knowin’ iffins ye be o an age where ye be likin’ gew-gaws like thet, so’s I be carvin’ a few little figures fer ye, too. Ye kin be keepin’ ’em on a shelf in yer room, or inna box wit yer udder trinkets.”

“Oh, these are marvelous!” Marisol smiled at my Old Dwarf. “I do like jewelry, and I will wear this always!” She put it on her wrist. “It’s a perfect fit! And I know just where I can put the figures, where I can see them every night before I go to sleep!”

BD cake for Marisol with candlesMarisol spent a few more minutes looking at all her gifts while Cleric served the cake and ice cream. “I made individual cakes so everyone could have their favorite. I made you the orange chiffon you liked last time.” Cleric handed Marisol her cake and the little girl made a silent wish and blew out the candles.

While we were all eating, Miles nudged me. “Your Arrogant One felt the party was beneath him?”

I shrugged. “I’ve been wondering that same thing. I noticed he was missing but didn’t want to make a big deal of it.”

After everyone finished eating, Dray took Marisol’s hand and walked her to the barn. She murmured an incantation under her breath. From the look on Marisol’s face, the spell worked.Dray shows Marisol the horses

“Oh!” Marisol stared at the steeds, who looked curiously at the newcomer.

Black horseForeman facing right closeupMy Foreman gave a hand signal for his horse to step forward. “The black stallion is mine. His name is Centaur. Would you like to pet him?”

Marisol nodded wordlessly, and my Foreman lifted her in his arms and let her pet the big horse.

“Oh! He’s so soft!”Gypsy horse

Gypsy close-up facing right“This one is Gypsy, and he’s soft, too.” My Gypsy led his horse over and Marisol cooed over him, too.

Giving Hero an appleYoung hero 2“And this is my pony, Hero. He loves apples. Would you like to fee him one?” My Young Hero showed Marisol how to hold her hand flat and let the pony take the apple gently from her hand.

Marisol giggled. “His whiskers tickle!”

Suddenly, my Arrogant One stepped out of the barn, leading a three-quarter size horse. “Marisol? How would you like to ride a pony?”

AO leading pony from barn

Marisol gaped at the elf leading the pinto to her and squealed. “Really? You’d let me ride?”

Arrogant One with Marisol and horseThe elf nodded. “Of course. This animal is quite gentle and will be an excellent mount for you.”

“Oh, yes! Yes, please!” Marisol seemed beside herself.

I rushed over to my Arrogant One. “No tricks.”

He gave me a look of pure innocence and continued talking to Marisol. “His name is Pegasus. Here, let me help you mount.”

Once Marisol was securely in the saddle, my Arrogant One led the pony around, first at a slow walk, then a little faster.

“Are you comfortable?” The elf brought the pony to a stop.

“Oh, yes!” Marisol’s eyes were shining as she leaned forward and patted the pony on his neck.

“If I give you the reins, do you think you could handle the pony on your own?”

I stepped forward. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Please? I’ll be very careful,” Marisol pleaded.

The elf scoffed. “I will not allow the child to be harmed.”Riding by herself

Without waiting for permission, my Arrogant One handed the reins to Marisol.

“What do I do? How do I tell the pony to walk?”

My Foreman and the lads hastened to her side. My Foreman instructed the child in the basics of walk and trot, and how to stop the pony. The lads walked beside her, one on each side, until she was comfortable with controlling her mount.

“That was a nice thing to do.” I walked up behind my Arrogant One.

“You need not sound so surprised.” He sneered.

“Actually, I do. This is not exactly in character for you.”

AO learning magicThe elf turned to me, a wistful smile pulling at one side of his mouth. “When I was but little older than her, I wanted nothing more than to learn the art of illusion. I remember how thrilled I was when someone not only invited me to watch them perform some illusions but encouraged me to learn some of them. They spent all afternoon with me, teaching me, and then giving me space to try on my own. When something means so much to a person, even a little encouragement can mean the difference between elation and heartbreak.”

I raised an eyebrow at the elf, surprised that he would share something so profoundly personal.

Then he shrugged. “Besides, the beast ordered me to do it.” He turned from me and walked back to Marisol. “Do you know why he is named Pegasus?”

Marisol tilted her head and stroked her chin. “Pegasus was a figure in Greek mythology. Mommy and I read a book about him. He was a winged horse.” Her eyes grew large. “Does this horse have wings?”

The elf winked at her and nodded. Suddenly, the horse she was riding changed. In an instant, the saddle was gone, and the horse sprouted wings. “Hold the mane and ask him to fly.”

I screeched as the pony leaped into the air, but my Arrogant One held his hand out toward the pony, keeping it just a foot or so off the ground.

Marisol didn’t say a word, but the expression on her face spoke volumes. She looked like she had never enjoyed herself so much.

“Beast?” My Arrogant One looked at Dray questioningly.

She nodded, and shape-shifted into her true form, taking to the air with Marisol and Pegasus as my Arrogant One dropped his hand and his control over the winged horse.

FlyingMy heart just about stopped, and I held my breath as I watched Dragon and Marisol fly higher, circling the treetops for several long minutes. Then they floated back to the ground. Dragon changed back into Dray, and Pegasus was once more just a saddle horse. I think that was when I remembered to breathe again.

Marisol jumped out of the saddle, radiating joy and awe. Her eyes sparkled and a huge grin spread across her face. “Oh, thank you! Thank you, everyone! Thank you, elf, thank you, Dray! I will never forget this birthday as long as I live!”Marisol hugging Dray

We hope you enjoyed Marisol’s birthday party. Be sure to get a piece of cake and some ice cream before you leave, and please join us again next week for more exciting adventures with my little band of displaced characters. I’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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A Birthday Wish

A Birthday Wish

“Missy, look who I found while fetching the mail.”looked up from laptop

I looked up from my laptop, curious why Dragon was calling me Missy, the name my characters called me in public. I soon saw the reason and smiled. Dragon, in her assumed identity of the delicate lass, Dray, walked over to the gazebo where I sat working. Skipping behind her was a young child.

“Well!” I closed my laptop and walked down the gazebo steps. I bent down, putting myself at eye level with the child, and smiled at her. “Who is this?”me and Marisol

The little girl giggled. “It’s me, Marisol.”

Marisol?” I feigned shock. “No, it can’t be! Marisol is a little girl.” I held my hand down to indicate someone much shorter than the child in front of me.

Marisol giggled again. “I’ve grown since you saw me. Last week, Mommy measured me, and I’ve grown two whole inches this year!”

“Two whole inches? Imagine that! You’ll soon be as tall as your mother!”

Marisol giggled and rolled her eyes at me.Bastina

“Speaking of your mother, is she with you?” I stood and glanced over at the side yard, expecting to see our neighbor, Bastina.

Marisol bowed her head and scuffed her foot back and forth in the grass. Her voice was small when she finally answered. “No.”

Dray frowned. “Does she at least know where you are, child?”

Marisol close-upAgain, Marisol scuffed her foot back and forth. “No.” Her voice was even softer this time. When she finally raised her head and looked at Dray, the little girl’s brow was furrowed, and she was chewing her lower lip. “I have to talk to you, Dray, and I didn’t want Mommy to hear.”

“Oh?” Dray lifted a delicate eyebrow and tilted her head, studying Marisol closely. “And prithee, what do you need to discuss with me that your mother cannot hear?”

are there horsesMarisol hesitated. “My birthday is Sunday. I’ll be seven years old. I’d really like to see the horses for my birthday. Maybe even pet them? I mean, it doesn’t have to be on my birthday, just for my birthday. Any day around my birthday would be fine.”

Dray wrinkled her brow, seemingly confused by the child’s request. “You know we do not have horses here.”

Marisol scoffed. “I know you did. I think you still do.”

“Hmmm.” Dray narrowed her eyes. “But you do not believe your mother would want you to be around horses?” Again, Dray tilted her head and carefully studied the child.

Marisol folded her arms in front of her and sighed deeply. “I don’t think Mommy wants me to see the horses.”

Horses by barnMarisol accuses Dragon who changes 2When we first met Marisol and her mother last year, we discovered Marisol had the unique power to see past Dragon’s spell of concealment. She was able to see the illusory horses and stable. She was also able to see through Dragon’s shape-shifting ability. She saw not the exotic maiden everyone else saw, but the beast’s true form. While her mother did not understand Marisol’s power, she was uncomfortably aware of it, since another part of the child’s power was to cause those around her to see what she saw.

https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/hello-neighbor/

https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/07/14/just-who-are-these-neighbors-and-what-do-they-see/

Marisol dropped her arms to her side and looked beseechingly at Dray. “But horses are my favorite animals, Dray! I mean, except for dragons, of course.” She giggled, then gave Dray another sad look. “I really, really, really want to see the horses. It’s my birthday wish! Please?”

Dray pursed her lips and rubbed the back of her neck.

Talia and MarisolPerhaps sensing Dray was about to refuse, Marisol tired a different tack, turning to address me as well as Dray. “You know Talia has been working with me, teaching me how to control my . . . problem.”

Dray and I nodded. We knew that Talia, one half of the team who operated the Chris-Tal Clear Metaphysical Store, had taken Marisol under her wing. She was providing guidance and direction to the young conduit of magic.

“Well, I’m doing really well with the exercises she taught me. I promise no one else will see the horses.” Marisol raised her hand as if taking an oath.

Dray sighed. “Suppose I speak with Talia. If she feels you have achieved a sufficient level of control, then I will approach your mother. Mayhap I can convince her to allow you to be our guest one day this week, without revealing the true purpose of your visit.”Marisol hugging Dray

“Oh, that would be perfect, Dray! Thank you!” The little girl ran to Dray and threw her arms around the woman, hugging her tightly.

That afternoon, after Dray checked with Talia, I dialed Bastina’s number and handed the phone to Dray to make arrangements.

Dray talking to Bastina“How fortuitous!” Bastina was so thrilled with Dray’s offer to have Marisol visit on Saturday, I could hear her enthusiastic reply even though I was standing a good ten feet from Dray. “I have to work the mid-shift at the herb shop Saturday, from eleven to six. I usually take Marisol with me, but after work I need to pick up her birthday cake and make some last-minute arrangements for her party on Sunday. I couldn’t do that if she were with me.”

Dray responded warmly. “It is our pleasure! Is it permissible for us to throw a small celebration for Marisol when she visits Saturday? Perhaps have a cake? Seven is quite the milestone in a young lady’s life, and we would be remiss if we ignored this occasion.”

With Bastina’s blessing, Dray and I began the plans for the party. We called the rest of my characters together, along with my husband, and explained our idea.

Dragon explains“I am going to allow Marisol to see me in my true form, and to see the illusory horses.” Seeing the shocked looks on the faces of her companions, Dragon waved dismissively. “I believe Marisol is sufficiently mature that she will not go off blathering about it to all and sundry. Also, Talia assures me the child has achieved a level of control over her powers that will prevent unexpected guests – anyone who crashes the party, so to speak – from seeing what Marisol sees.”

Me“I think it would be a good idea for us to have a little party for Marisol, leading up to the grand event of the day.” I looked around at the lack of enthusiasm among my characters and sighed. “We can have cake and ice cream and give her some small, token gifts. We can make it a real birthday celebration.”

Old DwarfMy Old Dwarf’’s eyes lit up at the mention of refreshments. “Be ye tinkin’ o some chock-lit cake?”

ElfCleric shook her head. “Marisol does not like chocolate. I will make an orange chiffon cake. It is her favorite”

Seeing the dejected look on the dwarf’s face, cleric reached out and patted his hand. “I know! Instead of one big cake, I will make individual cakes for each person. Yours will be chocolate, my friend. And we can have several flavors of ice cream. Master Miles has shown me how to use the machine that makes it.”

Make individual cakes

Young hero 2“What sort of gifts can we give Marisol?” My Young Hero frowned and scratched his head.

Made a listWe spent some time discussing ideas. Dragon decided granting Marisol her birthday wish would be her gift. Cleric felt the party and the cakes could be her contribution, and my Old Dwarf decided to handcraft a present. I offered to do the shopping for everyone else and made a list of what to get.

Invitation

Rest in Peace

Rest in Peace

Cleric closeupMe“Something is bothering you, Mistress?”

I looked up. Cleric was there, as she often was when I felt alone, confused, and angry. The concern in her soulful eyes touched me.

I nodded. “Yes. Something is bothering me.”

Cleric gestured toward the door. “It is a beautiful day out. Shall we retire to the deck to sip some refreshing lemonade and commune with nature?”

I was about to tell her I preferred keeping my own company that day, but then I reconsidered. “Yes, that sounds like a good idea. Why don’t we invite Dragon, Sorceress, and my Old Dwarf as well?”

Cleric furrowed her brow and stared at me. “If you wish. I will locate them, and we will meet you on the deck. We will bring the refreshments.”On the deck

Soon after, we were gathered on the deck. Cleric poured the lemonade and we all helped ourselves to cookies. Then we sat in silence, watching my Foreman and the lads work their illusory horses. My companions shifted uncomfortably and did not seem to know what to say.

Old DwarfMy Old Dwarf was the first to break the silence, talking around a mouthful of cookies. “So’s, the holy lass be sayin’ thet summat be botherin’ ye.”Young Ruth 2

I nodded. “Do you remember me telling you about my friend, Ruth?”

The others nodded.

Kept horse with me“She been an ol’ friend o yourn from back when ye been livin’ in thet udder place . . . New Jersey . . . an’ ye been runnin’ a stable where ye been keepin’ horsies fer udder people. Ruth been keepin’ ’er horsie wit ye, but then she been movin’ an’ ye dinna been keepin’ in touch much after thet.” My Old Dwarf tapped the side of his head. “I be rememberin’.”

Sorceress close-up 2“I remember as well.” Sorceress nodded. “If I recall correctly, a year or two ago, you discovered she was living near here when one of her relatives contacted you and asked you to visit her.” She sipped her lemonade as I nodded.

“Yes, that was two years ago. It was the first time I had seen Ruth in almost thirty-five years.” I sighed.

Cleric closeup“That was not a pleasant visit for you, was it, Mistress?” Cleric gave me a sympathetic look.

I shook my head sadly. “No, not pleasant.”

Old DwarfRuth 2My Old Dwarf nodded. “I be rememberin’ all right! Ye been all upset then by how she been. Ye been sayin’ thet she been robbed o ’erself by time. Ye been ta see ’er a few times since then, an’ each time, ye been just as upset.”

I nodded.

Elf clericDragon, in her form of a delicate maiden, tilted her head and stroked her chin. “I remember also. Had you not planned to see her again, right before this pandemic closed her facility to visitors?”

“Yes. I was supposed to go, but her niece called me and cancelled the visit.” I took a sip of my lemonade. “That was five months ago. The niece just called me this week to let me know the nursing home was allowing visitors again.”

Sorceress nodded. “You went to see her Wednesday, did you not? I recall you were not upset by this visit. You said it was a good day for Ruth.”

Ruth“The visit was remarkable. Ruth had some of her spunk back. There was a sparkle in her eye, and she sat a little straighter. And she remembered things! She talked and talked and talked about the things we used to do, the horses we owned, the places we rode, the auctions we attended.”

“That sounds like a lovely day, Mistress!” Cleric beamed.

“So’s why be ye so upset taday?” My Old Dwarf was still talking around a mouthful of food.

“Ruth’s niece called me this morning. Ruth passed away last night in her sleep.”

“Oh, Mistress, I am so sorry!” Cleric placed her hand on my shoulder while the others murmured their condolences.

“Thank you. I’m sad she’s gone, but glad she had a few good days at the end. When I saw Ruth this week, it seemed she was doing so much better and her niece told me Ruth had been doing well all week. She seemed stronger, more engaged, remembering things. She even started working on a crossword puzzle.” I sighed. “It seems so unfair that she’s gone now, just as she seemed to be a bit better.”

“Be ye writin’ summat aboot ’er agin, liken ye did afore?” The dwarf took another handful of cookies.

I wrinkled my brow and shook my head. “No, I don’t think so. I think the blog and the poem I wrote about her two years ago will stand as her tribute.”

https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/08/26/ruths-world/

I sighed again. “Rest in peace, my friend. Rest in peace.”

Rest in Peace

 

I hope you come back again next week to visit and see what’s happening with my little band of displaced characters. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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An Old Friend to the Rescue

An Old Friend to the Rescue

Almost a week had gone by, and still Dragon sulked in front of her blazing fireplace.

Dragon in front of fireplace

Temperature steadily risingArrogant One“The temperature outside has been steadily rising all week. Summer has returned with all its heat and humidity, and still that vile beast keeps that inferno blazing in the conference room! The entire house is like an oven! She gives no thought to the comfort of anyone save herself!” My Arrogant One scowled fiercely as he rose from the breakfast table. He drew himself up, rocked back on his heels, and grasped his cloak with both hands. “I, for one, have no intention of subjecting myself to such maltreatment. I am retiring to the shed until someone takes that insufferable beast in hand.”

Old DwarfMy Old Dwarf stopped loading his fifth helping of flapjacks onto his plate and jumped up to face my Arrogant One. “Eh, thet insufferable beastie be me mostest specialest friend, so’s ye best be watchin’ yer tongue there, elfie, afore I be puttin’ a knot in it fer ye.”

The elf, predictably, reacted with a glass-shattering shriek. “Do not call me elfie!”

The dwarf chuckled and settled back to finish his breakfast as the elf stomped out of the room.

Bounty Hunter“The elf might be annoying, but in this case, he is right. Something must be done about that cold-blooded reptile before we all bake to death.” My Bounty Hunter threw his napkin on his plate and followed the elf to the relative comfort of the garden shed.

Young hero 2My Young Hero wiped the sweat from his brow. “The rest of us have discussed escaping into the illusory world created for the Foreman.” He refilled his glass from the pitcher of ice water and gulped it down. “Mistress, you and Master Miles are welcome to join us.”

“Thanks, but I think Miles and I should stay here. I’ll try to reason with Dragon again.” I raked my hand through my hair and turned toward my husband.

Miles talking to dwarfMiles frowned. “You better persuade her to get rid of that fireplace before all the paint in the house bubbles off the walls and the paneling warps.”

My Old Dwarf pushed himself away from the table and got slowly to his feet. “Good luck ta ye, lass. Ye be needin’ it! Tha beastie do na even be listenin’ ta meself.” The pain and worry over his friend showed in my Old Dwarf’s red-rimmed eyes, slumped shoulders, and shuffling gait as he left the room.

I sighed and looked at Miles again. Before I could say anything, the doorbell rang.

Cleric closeup“You and Master Miles finish your meal, Mistress. I will see who is at the door.” Cleric trudged out of the room, wiping the sweat from her face. Moments later, she raced back, eyes sparkling and a huge smile lighting up her face. “Mistress, there is someone here to see you! Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm begs an audience.”

I jumped out of my chair. “Ollie? Ollie’s here already? I only called his human this morning.”

“You called James?” Miles looked relieved. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“You were busy making breakfast when I made the call. When I got to the breakfast table, my Old Dwarf was already here, and I didn’t want to mention it in front of him. He and Dragon share a close bond, but nothing like the bond Dragon shares with Ollie. I didn’t want to upset the old reprobate. You know how jealous he can get.”

“Do you really think Ollie can help?” My Gypsy looked skeptical.

“Only one way to find out.” I headed down the stairs and out the front door to welcome our guest.

Ollie and butterfliesWhen I arrived in the front yard, Ollie was sitting there, seemingly mesmerized by two butterflies fluttering around his head. I took a moment to study him. I had almost forgotten how handsome the Old English Sheepdog was, with his elegant head, his intelligent eyes, his muscular body, and his magnificent coat, beautifully patterned in blue merle and white.

Me greeting OllieWhen he saw me, Ollie jumped up and woofed in greeting, a goofy puppy-like grin on his face. When he tried to wag his little bobbed tail, his entire hindquarters wiggled comically with the effort. When he saw me trying not to laugh at his antics, he immediately stopped. He almost looked as if he were blushing, as if remembering he was no longer a puppy, and he quickly assumed a more dignified bearing.

I smiled. “Sir Oliver, it’s been too long since you honored us with a visit! It’s good to see you again.”

Ollie whined and nodded. “Too long, indeed, Marge. I have missed coming here. But please, call me Ollie. Sir Oliver is too formal between friends.”

I smiled and nodded. “Of course, Ollie. How have you been? And how are your human companions, James and Ron?”

Ollie (8)“We are all well, thank you, Marge.” Ollie’s human speech was well developed, as were his manners. “But, please, from what James told me, I would prefer we do our catching up later. James said Dragon needs my help.” Ollie’s distress was evident in his china blue eyes, and the way he started dancing around. He began mixing his canine vocabulary with his human words. “Woof! Where is she? What is wrong? Is she injured? Is she in danger? Woof! Woof! I need to help Dragon! What can I do?” He ended with a heartbreaking whimper.

“Relax!” I placed a hand on Ollie’s broad head and patted him reassuringly. “She is uninjured, and in no danger, save that of losing her friends. She is currently in the conference room, basking in front of her illusory fireplace.”

Ollie scratched behind one ear with a hind foot. Then he cocked his head and gave me a confused look. “Her fireplace? But it must be more than eighty-five degrees today!”

I nodded. “Dragon claims that anything under a hundred degrees is not comfortable for her.”

“Woof! How can she stand it, with her luxurious fur coat?”

“Fur coat?” I furrowed my brow and tilted my head. “Dragon has scales.”

How Ollie sees DragonOllie looked embarrassed. “Woof, woof! Of course! I forgot Dragon is a dragon. You see, when I look at Dragon, I see a beautiful female Old English Sheepdog!”

I chuckled. “I see. Well, at any rate, you can imagine how the rest of us feel with the house so hot.” I gestured toward the front door. “Maybe you can talk with her?”

“Woof, woof!” Ollie shook his head so hard, his ears flapped. “Oh, no, Marge! My own fur coat is quite thick, and I do not tolerate extreme heat very well. Perhaps you could tell her I am here, and I could wait for her in the back yard?”

I nodded and went inside as Ollie trotted around to the rear of the house.

A blast of hot air assaulted me when I opened the door to the conference room, driving me back and making me gasp for air. I steeled myself, pushed through the wall of heat, and entered the room. “Dragon? Dragon!

Smoke drifting from Dragon's snoutThe cranky beast opened an eye, and smoke poured from her snout. “If you are here to complain about the heat, save your breath. I find it most pleasant, and I intend to stay here and enjoy it.”

I shrugged. “Then should I tell your guest you choose not to see him?”

“What guest?” Dragon’s question was delivered with a snarl.

“Ollie has traveled all this way . . .”

Dragon was on her feetOllie (4a)Dragon was on her feet in a heartbeat, eyes wide and a silly grim stretching her reptilian lips. “Ollie? My Ollie . . . er, I mean my friend, Ollie, is here? Where? Show him in! Show him in!”

I folded my arms over my chest and raised an eyebrow. “Oh, I’m sorry.” I smirked. “Ollie has declined my invitation to come in to see you. He can’t tolerate extreme heat. He has a rather thick fur coat, you know. He said he’d be in the back yard if you cared to visit.”

The words were hardly out of my mouth when Dragon was through the doorway and racing up the stairs.

Sighing, I wiped away the rivulets of sweat running down my face and trudged down the hall to my office. I walked over and opened the window, hoping for a cool breeze to alleviate the oppressive heat.

I smiled at the scene unfolding before me. Ollie was racing in circles around Dragon, yipping and woofing for joy. Dragon bent over and let Ollie give her puppy-dog kisses, licking her snout and cheeks. Once Ollie had finished kissing her, he sat and looked at her with adoration in his eyes.

Dragon carressing Ollie seen through screen“I have missed you, dear one.” Dragon spoke softly and caressed Ollie, tenderly ruffling the fur on his head and gently scratching behind his ears.

Ollie closed his eyes in bliss as he replied, “I have missed you, too.”

I tip-toed away from the window to give them some privacy, but their voices carried through the screen.

“I am so overjoyed at seeing you, I forgot to ask what brings you here today.”

I held my breath, hoping Ollie wouldn’t tell Dragon I had called James to request Ollie’s help. I should have known Ollie would be discreet. He kept my secret.

“Woof. I just thought you might like a visit from a friend.”

When there was no response to Ollie’s statement, I imagined Dragon raising an eyebrow or shaking her scaly head at her canine friend.

“Growf? I felt that you were troubled, and I wanted to assure myself you are safe and well?”

I smiled. I knew I was right, and Ollie’s first response had elicited a skeptical look from Dragon. This time, Dragon must have accepted Ollie’s reply, as she answered him.

“I appreciate your concern, dear one, but as you can see, I am both safe and well.”

This time I imagined Ollie rolling his eyes, as he replied. “Woof! You know you cannot hide your emotions from me. Something troubles you. Cannot a friend offer some help, lend a willing ear?”

I heard Dragon sigh. She took some time before answering Ollie. “You are right. I am troubled.”

“I am listening.”

As Dragon explained her vexation to Ollie, I heard none of the anger or defiance in her words that had been directed at me the previous evening. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2020/08/09/the-summer-of-dragons-discontent/ Instead, there was an almost wistful tone to her voice.

Dragon talking to Ollie 1“For quite some time now . . . really, ever since falling out of Mistress Writer’s manuscripts and becoming stranded here in the real world with her and Master Miles . . . I have been the one everyone turns to for help. When some of my fellow characters yearned for their horses, I was the one expected to create illusory animals for them. When the Foreman longed for his old life, when he was feeling useless here, I was the one expected to create a solution.”

Dragon paused. She must have begun pacing. When she spoke again, her voice came from a different direction.

Dragon talking to Ollie 2“When the Arrogant One creates problems, when the neighbors observe something they should not, when the Young Hero is plagued with nightmares, when some mystery or danger or menace threatens us . . . it is always me, Dragon, who is expected to deal with it.”

There was another pause, and then her voice came from her original location.

Dragon talking to Ollie 3“Still, for all I do for everyone else, no one cares about my happiness or well-being. I desire to be warm. I am a creature of fire and heat, raised in the burning sands of the desert. Yet, they would deny me my fireplace, my warmth, my comfort.”

Ollie (7)All the while Dragon spoke, Ollie remained silent, not once interrupting to ask for details or suggesting she might be exaggerating. He waited patiently at each pause, not jumping in with advice or urging Dragon to continue. Ollie continued to remain silent for a long time after Dragon stopped speaking. Finally, I heard him reply, his human-speak combined with a series of whines and whimpers.

“I understand. You feel you carry everything on your shoulders, and you feel unappreciated and ill-used by those for whom you do so much.”

Ollie paused, and I assumed Dragon was nodding, as I heard no reply from her.

Ollie continued. “Do you hate them for it?”

“Who? Mistress Writer and Master Miles, and my fellow characters?”

“Yes.”

Dragon took a long few moments before answering. “Hate them? No. I would lay down my life for them.”

Ollie (10)What happened to summerOllie woofed. “Yes. That is your lot, your role in life. You are the Wise One and the Protector. The one who created you endowed you with greatness . . . great wisdom, great strength. For that, and all the burdens it places on you, do you resent the others – Mistress Writer, Master Miles, and your fellow characters?”

I heard Dragon reply in a small voice. “No.”

“Woof! Woof! Then embrace your role in life! Be the Wise One. Be the Protector. It would be no different, you know, if you were still in your own world.”

There was another pause.

Ollie (8)Dragon stepped forward“And remember. Not everyone who resides under the same roof with you is a creature of fire and heat. Not everyone in this house was raised in the burning sands of the desert. You alone are comfortable in such an inferno. And part of being the Wise One, part of being the Protector, is not causing harm or discomfort to those in your safekeeping. The Wise One should be able to find a way to remain warm and cozy while not baking the others in the process.”

I heard the sound of Dragon’s laughter, a combination of the melodious tinkling of crystal wind chimes, the gentle babble of a brook, and the soft sound of wind through reeds.Dragon carressing Ollie seen through screen 2

“Dear one! Methinks the One who created you endowed you with much greater wisdom than that with which I have been endowed. Thank you, my friend!”

I quietly left the office, hoping Dragon and Ollie wouldn’t discover I had been eavesdropping. Before I had even walked up the stairs to the kitchen, the house had dropped back to a comfortable temperature.

“Hey, honey?”

Miles looked up, expectantly, as I walked into the kitchen.

“Defrost the biggest, juiciest steak we have in the freezer. I’m inviting Ollie to stay for dinner, and he’s earned a tasty reward.”

Ollie's reward

 

My thanks to Ollie, and to his human companion, my social media friend, author James Stack, for Ollie’s guest appearance in this week’s blog.

Ollie 3

Ollie 1
Ollie dressed as James one Halloween

 

Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm – Ollie – is an Old English Sheepdog who is as wise as he is handsome.

 

 

 

Ollie's companion James StackOllie’s human companion, James Stack, is a recipient of the Freedom of Expression of Courage Award from PEN America. His memoir, WORLD’S FAIR, and collection of poetry, PLEASURES & SEASONS OF VERMONT, were published in 2013. His blog, Postcards From Lebanon, about his experience with chemotherapy, appeared on The Huffington Post during 2013/2014.

 

Be sure to come back next week and see what’s in store next for my little band of displaced characters. I’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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