Tag Archives: story

Lillywack

Oh, my dears. It’s been a long week. And it is Friday night. The sky is dark, the moon is traveling past the stars, and much of the world is readying for bed. Curl up and listen to the tales I weave, until your eyes grow heavy and you slip into slumber, ready for the Dream Maker.

261 miles downstream from Manaus in the middle of the Amazon River is the island of Tupinambarana, covered in forests and accessible only by air or by water. The island has been separated from itself by natural channels, so that it is actually four separate islands, and these channels pulsate through the trees. It is within these channels that Lillywack lived.

Gentle and thoughtful, Lillywack is fascinated by humans. She finds our voices lyrical and mesmerizing and each year crept close to the town of Parintins to listen to the sounds of the Boi Bumba festival.  The Boi Bumba festival takes over the town every year and is based on the folkloric tale of Boi Bumba. There are many different variations of the legend, but a common version tells the story of a rich farmer who gives his daughter his favorite boi (ox) as a gift. He entrusts his ranch hand Pae Francisco to care for the boi, but Pae Francisco’s pregnant wife, Mae Caterina, develops an inexplicable craving for the bull’s tongue. Pae Francisco thus kills this prized beast to satisfy his wife’s need.

When the crime is discovered, adventures ensue as local Indians hunt and capture Pae Francisco in a forest hideout. Brought before the rich farmer for judgement, Pae Francisco faces death for his deed. Desperate to save his and his wife’s lives, Pae Francisco attempts to resucitate the ox. With the assistance of Curandeiros (spiritual shamans), Mae Caterina and Pae Francisco are able to harness the power of the drum beat and bring the ox back to life.  Thus, their lives are spared and all is forgiven.

Each year, 35,00 people gather in an arena to party and participate in the Boi Bumba festival. It is described as “an incredible musical and theatrical experience, a religious procession, a tribal ritual, a giant puppet show, a fairy tale of powerful villains and brave heroes, a folk art presentation, a major party for the audience and an energizing choreography of the galera all at once.”

So you can understand why Lillywack was so fascinated. Each year she crept closer and closer to Parintins, hungry for more lights, more music, and a better view. She crept too close, though, and was discovered by a boatload of fishermen, drinking in their wooden craft in the river. They offered the creature quentão (she wisely refused this hot and alcoholic beverage) and let her watch the festivities with them from the safety of the water.

Intoxicated by what she saw, Lillywack prefers to live amongst humans now, favoring the bright lights and stories of our world than the rich, aquatic quiet of her world. She now resides in the United States, and loves any holiday that involves a parade. There may be tiny Lillywacks growing in every country, for all we know. Or perhaps Boi Bumba will entice another Amazonian creature to come out of hiding.

Sleep tight, my pets. Dream deep.


 

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Erter Vinter

Oh, my dears. It’s been a long week. And it is Friday night. The sky is dark, the moon is traveling past the stars, and much of the world is readying for bed. Curl up and listen to the tales I weave, until your eyes grow heavy and you slip into slumber, ready for the Dream Maker.

In Alfheimr, home of the Light-Elves and one of the Nine Worlds of Old Norse mythology, the erter vinter (winter peas) dwell. These tiny elves sing and fly through the heavens on the dreams of dead animals. They smell like salt and when they sing make whistling and tinkling sounds like bells and chimes in the wind. They are happy beings and welcome spirits to heaven with a warmth that seems unfathomable for a Norwegian winter.

Here on earth, we live with the Dark-Elves, creatures dark as pitch and thick with evil. It is easy to become mired in their darkness, to believe the terrible things they whisper, and this is exactly what they want.

As is written in the eddic poem Gylfaginning:

That which is called Álfheim is one, where dwell the peoples called Light elves [Ljósálfar]; but the Dark-elves [dökkálfar] dwell down in the earth, and they are unlike in appearance, but by far more unlike in nature. The Light-elves are fairer to look upon than the sun, but the Dark-elves are blacker than pitch.

Yes, the erter vinter are tiny. And yes, they are silly and happy creatures that could easily somersault across the palm of your hand. But they battle the dökkálfar each and every day. They ride on clouds of otter dreams, singing songs to remind us of the simple strength of the snowflake and to remind us that our world is beautiful and that we are each loved. The dökkálfar are fierce and impressive, but the erter vinter are fiercer.

And they’re cute, too.

The next time you succumb to the insidious whispers of the dökkálfar, take a moment to listen for the chimes and bells that are the songs of the erter vinter. Take a deep breath of the salt in the air that means the erter vinter are near. Let their soft songs seep into your subconscious. It can be warm even in the coldest winter.

Sleep tight, my pets. Dream deep.

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The Odd Forest

Oh, my dears. It’s been a long week. And it is Friday night. The sky is dark, the moon is traveling past the stars, and much of the world is readying for bed. Curl up and listen to the tales I weave, until your eyes grow heavy and you slip into slumber, ready for the Dream Maker.

Have you ever been in a park, or walking in the woods, or poking in an overgrown garden and found yourself – just for a moment – befuddled by your surroundings? Perhaps the air took on a chill, or the vegetation looked momentarily askew. You were there. You were in The Odd Forest.

The Odd Forest is always just around the corner, and were you to spend more than a moment there, you’d see just what makes it so odd. Trees grow backwards – their tops are underground and their roots reach high into the sky. Rocks scuttle in the wind like tumbleweed and leaves are heavier than slate. Creeks run uphill and brooks don’t babble – they scream.

And in the center of it all, skips the Creepy Bunny.

CB, as she’s known to the other inhabitants of The Odd Forest, lives in a warren beneath a weeping willow (that grows upside-down and backward, naturally). CB loves to run her paws through the weeping willow’s tendrils, murmuring to herself “So pretty. So pretty.” Even in the darkest hours, CB skips unafraid through the caves and meadows, often trailing a wooden stake behind her. She’s not out hunting for vampires, though. Whenever she takes a rest, she thrusts the stake into the ground and leans against it casually. Even for The Odd Forest, our Creepy Bunny is weird.

When the Dagger-Hoofed Deer lopped the tails off of the Cycling Chipmunks as a prank, CB followed behind, gathering their tails. She sewed them into a glorious coat and wore the coat proudly every Thursday.

When the Half-Blind Badger mistakenly poured mercury into the water hole, CB made extraordinarily strong cocktails from the poisoned water and sipped them from high on Wayfarer’s Rock until nobody knew whether she was drunk from whiskey or mad from mercury.

She writes poems on thin strips of bark and hangs them from the roots of trees, makes fetching hats from moss and tends to over-emphasize the wrong syllable in three syllable words.

Even when the Twice Reanimated Vulture hunts after midnight, CB will fearlessly pull late wanderers into her warren, saving them from certain death, seemingly oblivious to her own possible peril.

She is a big-hearted bunny, and odder than The Odd Forest is large. (And it is very very large. Too large for any map, though unaccountably impossible to find.) Yes, she is creepy. Yes, she moves like a stuttering robot and, yes, she does murmur questionable things while standing a hair too close, but remember, we are visitors in The Odd Forest. We must seem terribly creepy to CB. And still she’ll let us lean upon her stake anytime. And she’ll always offer up a cocktail.

Sleep tight, my pets. Dream deep.

 

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Leech Girl

Oh, my dears. It’s been a long week. And it is Friday night. The sky is dark, the moon is traveling past the stars, and much of the world is readying for bed. Curl up and listen to the tales I weave, until your eyes grow heavy and you slip into slumber, ready for the Dream Maker.

It was a day much like this one – mid-October and cool but not cold. It had been raining for days and there were puddles everywhere. Little Eleanor shrugged out of her stuffy raincoat and ran into the field behind her house. She jumped from puddle to puddle, laughing as the muddy water flew from her pink galoshes into the air.

Her mother – a pragmatist from experience, as so many mothers are – called after little Eleanor, warning her to be careful in the dirty puddles. And to her credit, Eleanor listened to her mother. She skipped through the field to the little pond just beyond the drooping wildflowers. The little pond that was swollen with dirty water and, oddly enough, hundreds of leeches.

Eleanor giggled as she stepped into the brackish water – just up to the tops of her galoshes – and squealed with delight as the leeches latched onto the boots. She tickled her fingers into the water and gasped as the leeches sucked insistently onto her tiny fingertips. She named each one as they oozed and inched up her arms, doing a little dance when they slipped beneath her collar. She ignored her mother’s calls – telling her not to play with the leeches.

Only under the threat of no dinner did Eleanor leave the dirty pond. But she did not heed her mother’s warning, for beneath her brown hair ribbon, Eleanor had hidden three leeches. She ate dinner demurely and succumbed to a face scrubbing with an unusual amount of agreeability. Tucking her little Eleanor to bed, her mother thought how lucky she was, to have such a daughter.

Eleanor giggled in her bed as the three leeches slid from their hiding place and down her tiny cheeks. They travelled down her arms and kissed each of her fingertips. Overnight, the leeches worked their magic and by the morning, little Eleanor had transformed into Leech Girl.

Such a daughter, indeed.

Sleep tight, my pets. Dream deep.

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