This morning, writing is meditation; words become prayer. My characters speak to me, some with their own authentic voices, others with an echoing resonance of the familiar known. Writing is a portal into a reality unfolding at my fingertips, whether given or chosen, found or forced, inspired or produced, automatic or pragmatic. This morning, writing becomes salvation. A peaceful beginning. A new dawn.
Floating on an ice cube-sized igloo was no small feat. Quite the contrary: Zelda faced one of the most challenging periods of her existence as she fought to stay balanced, keep her few possessions from gliding off the teeny chunk of ice, not to mention herself from gliding into the ever swelling raucous river upon which she now found herself floating.The days of gradually dissolving igloos resulting in her ultimate embankment on a strange street or at the doorstep of a fellow villager were long gone.
This river was vast, its depth and breadth beyond her understanding, and unlike the river created in the past by her melting igloo, this river, created by a melting planet, was furious and unending. Her plight was more lonesome than ever, for she alone was afloat on the now vast watery wilderness, on a river now grown into oceans now overtaking nations, continents, the entire planet. Remnants of the antediluvian world would occasionally float past her ice cube. If something caught her fancy, she had but a split-moment to decide whether snaring it was worth having to discard an item of equal size and weight in order to make room for its retrieval.
Sometimes the timing didn’t work out: As soon as she tossed an equivalent item overcube, the item she’d hoped to snare was suddenly swallowed by a whirlpool. With so little time to think, her choices weren’t always the wisest. She’d loathed the day she’d traded her last morsel of dried fruit for a stalk of rotted corn; the time she’d thrown her only blanket into the swirling waters to snag a leather bound book, only to find its water logged pages filled with words that had melted into grotesque inkblots.
Lacking her last morsel of dried fruit and her last vestige of blankety warmth had pushed her to the brink of surrender, yet somehow she dug deep and found within her the strength of her ancestors, the will to keep going. But on that fateful day, the day she pulled that limp book from the water, the day she found herself afloat without words, the day she was furiously tossed by waves without the comforting voice of a story, Zelda finally let go.
She abandoned cube, and as she leapt into the last of what had once been the great clean green and blue Planet Earth— now turned into a giant blue orb—ready for release from her fate, she
I will be at the Pinellas Comic and Maker Con today, Sat. 9/10, at SPC Seminole Campus, from 10 am-4:30 pm. Alden Thomas, illustrator of my latest book, “The House Ate It,” will be there, too. Look for us at Electric Shoebox Studios’ booth in the UP Bldg. See you there!
The world as Zelda knew it had been changing for as long as she had known it. Winter’s freeze was growing harsher and harsher; summer’s heat was increasingly unbearable; and the sea’s level was rising higher and higher, and higher still until that fateful day when the streets of Zelda’s small town began turning to creeks, then streams, then rivers. By now, the village people and whatever descendants of the Wooly Mammoth and Hairless Otter that had once been there were there no longer. They had all long evacuated or evaporated.
Even the ice man, who had cometh for the last time at the very last light of day for that very last time had gone, for he had only been able to bring to her that which he had left: a last three-quarters chunk of ice.
Now only Zelda remained, floating on her family’s igloostead which was now the size of an icecube.
On Summer Morns, Zelda became the village mascot, much like the lone stray, a nomad moving from place to place and person to person, a pet equally loyal to any hand that feeds it. This was because in the Season of Summer, the ice man would cometh at the very last light of day, when the sun was at its weakest— the optimum time in which Zelda to erect her igloo.
By midnight, exhausted and spent, the igloo would finally be complete, and she would plunge into her raft bed and fall deeply asleep before her head hit the willow leaf pillow, completely oblivious to the drip drop drip of melting ice already upon her. By sun up she’d be adrift in the stream that had once been her igloo, floating through town until the heat of the day had evaporated it completely, landing her on some random street corner, where she would wake, hungry, tired, and iglooless.
Whichever village street it was—and it was a different street each morning— the people at whose doorsteps she found herself would treat her to breakfast, pat her on the back, and give her directions back to her tiny plot of land. She was known and loved by all, and so this happened all along her route. Folks left out bowls of water, straw hats, worn sandals, lunch, snacks, and dinner until she’d finally arrive, most often, by the very last light of day back at her igloostead, where she would meet the iceman who had cometh, and start building again.
Just for fun, I’m going to start ‘serial” postings. Every day, I’ll give myself 5-10 minutes to add to the prior day’s post, until a short story is formed. Not sure how or where it will end…guess we’ll all find out at the same time. Here goes:
Once upon a time there was a girl…
Her name was Zelda Bismark. She lived in an igloo in the south of France, which created a certain kind of havoc. Especially considering that this story takes place in pre-electric times. Needless to say, she lived in a state of constant meltdown, in the most literal sense. The ice man would cometh daily, hauling fifty-seven and three quarters chunks of ice in his broken down cart, pulled by a team of mules. Zelda’s challenge was to build her igloo before its foundation’s chunks melted. All told, in the summer, her shelter lasted an avg. of 4.26 hrs…in the winter, she fared much better.
This transient yet permanent form of housing… she built and rebuilt her igloo on the same tiny plot of land as had generations prior, hailing back to the ice age, in fact…kept her clothed and honest. One never knows when the ice will melt, and so Zelda needed always to be prepared for the inevitability of exposure, in every sense of the word. Exposure of her inner life to the outer world; exposure of her body to an unimpressed, unintended audience; exposure to the elements— light and dark, hot and cold, still and windy; exposure to the unwanted elements of society.
These characteristics gave Zelda heroine status in some villagers’ eyes. She was flawed, in all the ways they were, and yet she lived in that igloo, refusing to succumb to the house she’d been dealt.
On Winter Eve’s, she’d invite the villagers to join her for venetian ices, which she’d shave off the walls and flavor with honey or mollusk oil, and recount the history of her forebears, the Neanderthals of an ice age long passed. That is, past for some, but not for Zelda. The ice age and its glories ran through her icy blood and warm heart. The towering courage and resilience of her people were recounted in the fables and tales passed orally from generation to generation. Tales of the Winter Wizard and the Summer Singer, tales of the Woolly Mammoth and Hairless Otter. She would sing the poems and songs of the frozen berry fests, thawing frost gardens, droplet dawns, and slushy sleep. She would hold the villagers mesmerized, paralyzed in fact, with fear whenever recounting the whole story of her people’s glorious beginning, born, as they were, in the catastrophic year of the GREAT Winter’s Unending, known otherwise as the beginning of the Ice Age…(more to come)
My first published works date back to 1970. They appeared in my school’s annually published anthology, edited and created by our Honors English class.
As children, we’d engaged in endless “duck and cover” drills, crouched under our desks, hands covering our heads, fearfully awaiting an A-bomb launched from Cuba’s shore. As adolescents, the flames of the Viet Nam War, assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Watergate scandal scorched our hearts and minds. In 1970, disparate reactions to the impending court order to desegregate our school were polarizing my neighborhood and home town.
Tapping into the vivid fears of our common teen angst, our editorial board aptly entitled 1970’s edition of our publication, “The Apocalypse.”
At the time, I was an overweight, overwhelmed adolescent whose best friends were books, and favorite activity was creating alternative realities with a treasured cartridge pen held in my peacock blue stained hands. I filled pages while others filled their datebooks.
Writing kept my soul alive.
And it has continued to do so ever since.
In my other life—the one bound by a material vs. ethereal world, I have worked as a teacher, a consultant in the field of developmental disabilities, a grant project manager, a freelance copywriter, a grants specialist for a large public school district, a technical writer of training manuals and related materials, an editor, and a program specialist.
I currently live on the West Coast of Florida with my soul mate, Deborah, and our dearly loved, cherished rescued Maltese, Lilly.