I quit my day job. Back in June. For various undeniable reasons. It was time. Time to start creating what was truly in my heart.
I must say I have been quite disciplined, and that includes my creative writing practice. The following story is a piece I wrote a few nights ago using “Story Cubes.” These consist in nine dice with images on all faces. That particular night, I picked and threw four dice, randomly. The moment I saw the pictures, I knew one of the characters would be Grace, the seven-year-old or so version of a good friend’s recent and first newborn. Here is what I wrote…
Wham! You’re An Indian
Story Cubes: Magic wand – teepee – the earth – rainbow
Hold still, said Oliver, you’ll ruin the spell. Grace fidgeted on the upturned pail that served as a stool while her brother circled her and gently tapped her head with a stick.
It was not any ordinary stick, mind you. He had stumbled upon it that morning, on the small path that led to a river near their summer camp, and had immediately known the true nature of what might have appeared to the inexperienced eye of others to be a mere broken branch. Its silver bark instantly informed Oliver that it had come from one of the neighboring Beech; and Beech do not put branches on Oliver’s path randomly.
He took it home and carefully wrapped an old leather shoelace around the thicker end. This, he knew, was the handle. Grace watched him, attentively. She admired her big brother’s creativity and the mysterious things he understood about the earth and the world. Is it a magic wand? She asked, almost knowingly. He only smiled. She knew that meant she was right. He carved a few magic symbols near the handle. Then it was ready.
His connection with the magnificent tree had started at a very young age. There was a rainbow that day, mumbled Oliver. Grace liked to hear that story and asked him to tell it at least every other day when they stayed at the camp. It fascinated her to know this had happened before she was born, and yet her big brother trusted her enough to share his secret world with her. She would not tell anyone. She understood it meant the Beech had chosen her too.
There was a huge rainbow that day, began Oliver again, as he walked in circles around his sister. You were in mom’s belly and I ran to the edge of the pond to see it better and mom could not keep up. And that big toad that used to live next to our dock was watching the rainbow too. He did not even hop away when I came running. That’s how I knew it was a very important thing that was happening. And you sat next to the toad, interrupted Grace. She loved that part best, because she loved toads and frogs and lizards. Yes, I did, and mom was not far behind us, but it was like Mr. Toad and me we were in another world.
And then I swear I heard someone call my name, continued Oliver. It was like a whisper and I turned to look at that huge Beech that lives right next to our shed and I swear for a minute I saw grandpa there, like he was going to give me a great big hug. But grandpa was in heaven, pointed out Grace. He was, agreed Oliver, but people in heaven can do that sort of thing. So I got up and I hugged the tree and I swear it was like it was a person. Maybe grandpa or someone else, but a very good person. And that’s how I knew Beech are special. They can do magic things.
Grace was not fidgeting so much anymore. That story was so mesmerizing to her, even though she must have heard it a hundred times. Oliver circled once more and suddenly, standing right in front of her, he raised his hand, made zigzags in the air with the magic wand and slowly lowered it to his sister’s forehead as he proclaimed, Wham! You’re an Indian.
Grace ran to the camp to get that big blanket she had used many times to turn the picnic table into a tent. Oliver tied the oars from the family canoes as best he could to make a frame. Once the blanket was secured around it, it looked like a decent teepee, just big enough for little Grace to climb in.
Normally, she would have insisted on bringing along her stuffed animals, but not today. The story of the grand-father Beech had awakened something different in her this time. She felt a sense of reverence that was utterly new to her. She could not have named this feeling, but it inspired contemplation. So instead of the stuffed toys, she got a book and read nonstop for the rest of the afternoon.
Oliver sat nearby, quietly. He saw the change in his sister. He had changed too. The adults might have called it growing up. They felt something different. They felt blessed.