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The Gingerbread Woman

There was once a woman who had been badly used.She was not young, nor had she enough years to be called old—though she had the face for it.And as if life couldn’t keep from being cruel, she discovered that she was about to die.
Her time left was very short; there was a week left of it, at most.And there was something about this surety of death that made her do something she had never before had the luxury to do: it made her stop and think.Such little time… And what to do with it?She had enough money for a month of living, and what had before felt like nothing more than scraping by felt suddenly like a small fortune. The longer she thought the more her brain spun.There were many small things she could buy, even a big thing.Some things to enjoy in her last week of living.But what was the use in that?There was one thing, however, that she had once loved.One skill that had not been dulled, though it had been a long time since it had been well-sharpened.And it had been learned at the hands o…

A Pinecone's Perspective

It was yesterday, or it might have been a year, or maybe a hundred more, ago.But it happened one day that a woman, upon seeing a wealth of perfect pinecones arrayed about strewn leaves, stopped to pick them up.Arms filled to the brim, she made her way home, delighted with her find.For on her mantle and her shelves, her cupboards and her counters lay green boughs in abundance.It was the start of Christmas, and all through her house, the smell of pine wafted about, though not until yet had there been cones.And there is no lovelier sight, the woman and I both agree, than pinecones amongst green-needled branches at Christmas.
Why this is so is no mystery.The cedar boughs bring to mind the hay that lay in the trough at Christ’s birth and bid the Child welcome.And no fragrance is so sweet as the smell of pine branches with needles gently crushed releasing the pungent aroma of joy.Add to those boughs the fruits of their year’s standing labor, and the d├ęcor is complete. But pinecone…

An Ode to The Book Dragon (OR A Thanksgiving Present for my Father)

A dragon spoke to me one day
And told me of his hoard Of precious stones and dazzling gems Over which he was lord
Of stacks of meat and silky furs And capes of velvet and jewels Of sliver shining like moonlight And weapons seized from fools
Bags of bronze and beaded lace And threads laced through with gold Wood carvings made by finest hands Much valued from of old
Clothes of many colors Of bold and richest hue In bolts and hand-tailored garments Taken from a wayward pirate’s crew
But the strangest that he did possess Was wealth of another sort At least, of riches they seemed to be For they came from a fine Queen’s court
Each had a stitch-bound cover Of the softest leather hide Embossed with curious markings In some order side by side
But whose to say, the dragon said What such things may mean For I cannot understand them Though I’ve stared until I’m green
I’ll teach you to understand them, I said, with a sudden brightening plan For I was trapped under his sizable paw And happened to be a learned man
The dragon lifte…

The Old Man's Whistle

A little girl watched from across the road as a tall man in a dark suit passed by the grubby old fellow who sat begging in a corner.
‘Spare some change, sir?’ the old man had asked. But the man in the suit kept on walking. The same thing happened some minutes later, but this time the passerby was an elderly lady, whose cane tapped a strong tattoo as she made her way past the old man.A sound came from her mouth that may have been a *tsk,* although she could have just been breathing. But the little girl held no judgment.She understood.The suit gentleman and the elderly lady had been feeling exactly as she felt: nervous.And they had not offered any change, for how were they to know if their offering would be accepted?The very thought that her meager quarters would be acceptable to the bedraggled gentleman left the girl questioning whether or not she should just turn tail and run home. What if the man laughed at her? Or worse, what if he threw her change back at her, offended at its…

The Prisoner's Revenge

In a room with no windows sat a bear, forlorn and hunched, for he had been a prisoner a very long time.When the door’s latch lifted, as it did once a day, he raised his head slightly, as he always did, and when a bowl of thin soup was pushed into the room, he waited until the steps faded, as he always did.Then, he ambled, more slowly each day and with less hulking mass, and sipped slowly from the lip of the bowl.
It had been a long time since the soup had ceased to taste repulsive.In fact, it had ceased to have any taste at all.And it was not the only thing that had ceased.Long had quelled the rage within, the vengeance designed to torment his captors if he had his chance at freedom.His spirits had sunk from fury to fallow, as his strength melted from around his very bones. And so he was found one day, a sunken mess of fur, head bent in the resigned sorrow his circumstance allowed.But perhaps not exactly found, as it were.For if it were so, the question would then be: by w…

The Princess and the Spider

Once upon a time there lived a princess.She had glorious brown hair—really absolutely stunning—and ruby red lips—a bit unusual, and sometimes they tinted to a lovely rosebud pink.But this is not a story about her hair or her lips or whether her skin was smooth as silk (it was, if you must know).And that is because the most interesting thing about this princess had nothing to do with her beauty and everything to do with her rather all-consuming fascination with insects.It was an obsession that was life long, beginning in her cradle years with the castle’s rather nasty infestation of ants.While the servants about her scrambled to do the Queen’s bidding, and the King stood on a piece of furniture trying desperately not to shriek—a mammoth feat given that his most pressing fear involved a swarm of ants covering his body in one fell swoop and leaving behind nothing but bones—the princess, on the other hand, stood in her crib, clutching the bars with tiny chubby fingers that s…