Emmaline’s Opal


dragon
A darkness moved across the sun. Emmaline looked up and then rushed under cover of the bushes. The sunlight shimmered off the dragon’s creamy iridescent scales. Once it flew over, she ran as quickly as she could down the path to her secret castle entrance.
She ran into the throne room, her father, brothers and several knights had gathered.
“Father! The dragon…”
Her mother came into the room behind her and caught her arm. “Why are you running through the castle? Can’t you see that your father is busy running the kingdom?” She pulled Emmaline out of the throne room.
“But Mama, the dragon.”
“Your father is taking care of it. You need to be back in your room working on your lessons.” Suddenly, her mother reached over and pulled at her hair. She pulled a large twig from the princess’s tangled hair. “You have been running around outside again. It is just not ladylike! I am going to have to lock you in your room if you can’t start acting like the princess.”
“But Mama.”
“Don’t talk back to me, young lady!” The Queen was angry. She marched her daughter down the hall to her room, opened the door and pushed her in. “You need to stay in here and think about how a princess should act. And I do not want you going into the forest ever again! It is too dangerous for you. What if you were to be kidnapped? Or worse, what if the dragon found you?” She left the room, locking the door behind her.
Emmaline threw herself down on the bed, but she couldn’t cry. She had to do something. Her father and the others were going to ride right into a trap. She hadn’t had a chance to tell them where the dragon was going.
She rose and walked to the window. She could see that the hunting party was preparing to leave. She needed to get down there before they departed.
Quickly, she changed into the worn pants and shirt she has gotten from one of the stable hands. She braided her long hair and put the braid inside her shirt. Then she slid on her riding boots and a long, dark cloak, pulling up the hood to cover her face.
She plumped up her pillows under the blankets on the bed so that, hopefully, her mother would think she was sleeping. She grabbed her bow and quiver of arrows, then slipped into the closet and through the passageway that led to the kitchen. Moving quickly, she got to the bottom of the stairs and then walked out into the bright sunlight outside.
The knights, led by her father, were mounting their horses. There was a nervous excitement in the air. Everyone was excited about hunting the dragon, but afraid of what would happen when they found it. Emmaline found a small gray horse, saddled and waiting for a rider. She mounted the horse and then moved around so she was as far away from her father and brothers as possible. She whispered encouragement to the little horse as they began the trek into the forest, keeping close to one of the knights who had several pages with him.
They took the main road leading through the castle heading east. The column of knights, pages and horses moved quickly through the forest. As they came out into a clearing, they could see a huge plume of smoke rising from the village. Suddenly, the dragon flew up over the ridge. He was huge with opalescent scales. He slowly turned over the village and then quickly dove, a burst of flames shooting from his mouth. As the stables went up in flames, horses ran terrified from the burning building.
The archers moved to the front of the line and prepared to fire on the dragon. The rest of the soldiers began to move into the forest. A small group of men began to ride toward the village. The dragon saw them coming and turned toward them, swooping through the distance in an instance.
Emmaline dismounted and led her horse back into the woods. She found the tallest tree on the edge of the forest and climbed to the top. She watched as the group of men split up and ran in different directions. That movement confused the dragon and the archers chose that moment to let their arrows fly. Most bounced harmlessly off the dragon’s opal scales. A few lodged in the dragon’s nose, which just irritated the beast. He dipped down suddenly and blasted the nearest man and horse.
The archers prepared to fire again. The dragon saw them and began to fly toward them. The archers held in a line until the dragon was almost upon them. As he began to open his mouth, they fired. Several arrows hit him in the nose and mouth. He shook his head and the flames sprayed wildly. A small stand of trees burst into flames, flushing out the men and horses hiding in them. One unfortunate soul ran screaming aflame.
Emmaline had watched the volleys of arrows hit the dragon and had a plan. His face was vulnerable and she thought that if he were shot in the eye, it might just be enough to take him down. But was she good enough to do it herself? Or should she climb down and try to convince the archers to aim for the eye? As she thought, the dragon came around for another pass. He was bearing down upon the archers and the main group of soldiers, including her father and her brothers.
She didn’t have time. So she notched her arrow and slowed her breathing. The Master Archer found it amusing to teach the princess with her brothers, until Emmaline had turned into a better archer than her brothers could ever hope to be. The Queen had been furious and refused to allow Emmaline to continue the archery lessons because “it was just not ladylike.”
She took a deep breath and held it as she drew back on the bow. Slowly, she released the air as she aimed. The dragon was coming closer, ever closer. Making an adjustment for a slight wind, she let the arrow fly. She notched another arrow, even as the first spiraled in slow motion toward the fuming beast.
Bullseye! The arrow entered the dragon’s eye. He slowed and the second arrow followed it. His body jerked and then fell from the sky, crashing to the ground. Knights ran to the fallen dragon and looked her direction.
She started climbing down the tree and by the time she got to the bottom, there was a group of knights waiting for her. Her brother, Michael was among them. He knew who she was before she hit the ground.
“Emma! That was an amazing shot!” He pulled the hood from her head, showing her face to the knights. Then he lifted her to his shoulders and carried her to their father. The look of shock and then joy on the King’s face made Emmaline feel incredibly proud.
He lifted her down from her brother’s shoulder and pulled her into a hug. “I am so proud of you, my girl. But you do know your mother is not going to be happy.”
“But if I hadn’t been here, you guys would have been killed!”
“I know and I will talk to her. But she is still going to be disappointed that you are not the little ladylike princess she had always hoped for.”
Just then, her brother, Brian came up and ruffled her hair. “I brought you a present.” She turned to look at him. He was holding a beautiful opal scale from the dragon. “I thought you might like a souvenir of the most incredible shot I have ever seen!”
Emmaline went and got her horse. She rode back to the castle at the head of the column, triumphantly, by her father’s side. She walked into the throne room with him and her brothers. The Queen moved toward her, but was stopped by the King. He spoke quietly to her for several minutes.
When she turned back to Emmaline, her face softened. She opened her arms and Emma ran into them. She could feel her mother’s tears on her cheek. She showed her mother the dragon scale. “Oh, it is beautiful! If you would like we can have the jeweler create a necklace for you. I am so very proud of you.”
She looked to her father. He smiled but then said, “I am happy you were there and that you were able to slay the dragon. However, we will need to talk about your sneaking out and disobeying your mother. After all, I can’t have a Master Archer in Training who doesn’t listen to what she is told.” And he walked to her and pulled her and her mother into a huge hug.

Snowstorm


Winds

Biting, snapping, painful

Cold

A few icy flakes

Frozen pellets blowing in the gale

Multiplying now

A whirlwind of snowy bullets

That melt upon hitting the ground

Until darkness cools the ground

And all the liquid deviltry

Refreezes

Into slick, dangerous glass on roads and sidewalks

Covered by the continuing snow.

What to Do? What to Do?


 

Silly question really because the plans I am worrying over are all long range plans; nothing as easy as should I have chicken for dinner or go for a drive on the weekend. My dilemma is do I pursue my charter school idea or do I continue the path I am on now and buy my cabin and travel. Both ideas get me excited. I just don’t think I can do both successfully.

I love my job. Currently, I am the reading specialist and 6th grade English teacher at a charter school. I know I am making an impact in many children’s lives.  I could easily continue to do this happily for the rest of my career.

A few years ago, I was part of a team who was writing an application for a charter school. Our team spent a lot of time planning how the school would operate and going to trainings to learn the best ways of writing the application. We went to Santa Fe and defended our application. It was rejected the first time; however, we were given many ideas on how to make the application stronger for the next year. Unfortunately, before we got very far into the second application, our team fell apart. And then, my marriage fell apart. I am not sure what happened to the charter school plan as I have lost contact with the rest of the team over the years.

The idea of creating a school has stuck with me over the years. I have a plan in mind. I would like it to be a STEM school, focusing on life and earth sciences. We would have access to irrigation, so water usage, water resources, and environmental studies would be important. There would be a community garden, which would be used, in part, to feed the students in the cafeteria. I would also like to have small animals, such as chickens or rabbits. These aspects would also allow for agricultural sciences and biology. I have not started planning the application or gotten anywhere beyond the daydream stage with this, but I think it is a viable idea for a school.

I have a couple of things I need to do before I get serious about this daydream. And, interestingly, they are the same things I need to do if I don’t. I need to do my dossier to move to a level 3 teaching license in New Mexico. I am planning to do that this spring. I am four classes away from completing an administrative license and since I am so close, I should finish it. I’ve thought seriously about working on my doctorate, although that is on hold for now and not really necessary for either of my plans. Finally, and probably most importantly, I need to get the disaster which is my personal budget figured out. I am working on it but have a long way to go.

Now, for the other option, I would still want to complete all of the above. I would like to buy a cabin in the woods and a house in town. Nothing big or too expensive in either case. The advantage of this option is that I will have time to do many of the things I enjoy. I would be able to continue working on my writing and my crafty things. And I would be able to travel! By not committing myself to a large, time-consuming project, I would be able to enjoy many of the things I want to do. I would also continue to teach, so would still have the satisfaction of helping others and making an impact on my students’ lives.

I know this isn’t a decision I have to make right now. I can continue with what I am doing for now and make the choices when the time is right. And I’m sure that it would be possible to do both, it just wouldn’t be easy. It’s exciting either way!

Furbabies


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Complications


passion

Complications

You were the complication I didn’t need.
With your smiling eyes
Treated me like a queen
Left me reeling
Lying there
Bones turned to gelatin
Brains to mush
Stretching languidly
Smiling
Like a cat heading to prowl

We fit together so perfectly
Two, interconnected
Electric impulses
Following your magic hands
Nerve-endings on alert
Feeling the rush
As passion crashes over us
Synchronous movement
Screaming
Our pleasure to the heavens

I wasn’t looking for this
This need, like a bullet to the brain
Aching
Begging for more
Knowing I should run
Yet wondering just where
Into your waiting arms?
Or as far as fast away
Confused
With you on my mind

Happy Birthday to my First Love


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So many many years ago, I fell in love. I didn’t know at the time I was in love…figured I was too young and afraid to commit to anything. Afraid to defy my parents.

That man stayed on my mind for years. I thought about him all the time, even through a marriage. After my first divorce, I located him and we did talk. He was with someone else, but it was good hearing from him.

A couple of years ago, we reconnected on Facebook. I was married, although we separated a couple months later. He chatted with me a lot through my break up and will always hold a piece of my heart for being there for me when I needed support. He is with someone now and I wish the two of them all the happiness in the world.

Somehow over the last couple years, I have found my own strength and realized that I am pretty happy on my own, living my life the way I want. I also realized that the boy I fell in love with and who had lived in my mind for so many years was not the man he actually became. I had changed him into someone of my own making over time.

Ghosts in the Shadows

Walking down by the river
Deep in the underbrush
I found you
Hidden in the shadows.

Memories flood my mind
Like unshed tears
As I realize
Those memories aren’t memories at all
Rather manufactured dreams
Dreams of how we could have been together
If we had stayed together
Ghosts of a past
That never really existed

How can I hold you if you were never real to start with
How can I look the real you in the eye
Knowing that my remembrances
Over all these years
Have been altered to fit my ideals
You have been changed

Watching the mist change with the rising sun
I see the ethereal vision of you
Fade into the mystical magical
And know that the dream will remain
Even if you never reappear.

Contracting a New Life


Sitting here, staring down at the yawning abyss before me, I realize that I have to make a decision and I have to make it now. Do I plunge into the gaping hole, into the unknown? Or do I retreat back to the comfort of my middle-class suburban life? Will I be able to live with myself if I back down now? Will I survive if I go?

I am reminded of the lyrics to an old Kinks tune. “Should I stay or should I go now? If I stay it will be trouble, if I go it will be double.” I know that my meaning is not their meaning but it really doesn’t matter. I am faced with an impossible choice.

As I sit, pondering my alternatives, my mind slips to my family. They are at the center of this dilemma. They will be most affected by whatever choice I make. Will they think badly of me? What will they do if I don’t come out of this alive and whole?

I am in agony, unable to sleep. My dreams are full of screams and sweat. My waking hours spent trying to keep everything together. I feel as if I am being torn apart. I know that once the choice is made there can be no turning back. I will not be given this chance again. If I back down now, I will face the probable destruction of my safe, comfortable life.

Friday afternoon, I stand in line to get my check. I am lost in the realization that this is the last step before my life will change forever. My mind is on the task ahead.

“Kerry…hey Ker!”

“Hmmmm.What!” I am jogged from my reverie. I look up and see Scott standing before me. “Oh hi Scott. What’s going on?”

“Nothing much. Man, you were pretty deep in thought there. Is everything okay?”

“Yeah. Just have a lot on my mind.”

“What are your plans for the weekend?”

“Not sure yet. I have a couple of things I need to work out tonight.”

Just then the secretary comes in and starts handing out the checks. I take mine and start to walk away.

“Hey Kerry. If you aren’t busy a bunch of us are gonna go out tomorrow night.”

“I’ll let you know. Have a good one.”

I walk out of the building and to my car quickly. There are a ton of things I need to finish before I go. I have prepared everything for the possibility that I won’t be here on Monday. I get in my car and drive away.

Once my check is cashed and the gas tank filled, I drive to an area near my work where there is a fantastic overlook of the entire city. I sit on the hood of my car and stare out at the scenery. Do I have what it takes? Can I really just drive away and leave all of this? I begin feeling better about my decision. I have chosen correctly and now that remains is to see if I have the courage to see it through.

I get in the car and drive to the freeway onramp. The final test will come soon. Will I stay on the highway or get off on my familiar off ramp? Can I bypass the exit? Traffic is bad, if I don’t get over soon I will miss it. I drive past the exit and out of town. I have butterflies in my stomach and my throat is dry. I pull off the highway at a gas station for a drink. Once rehydrated, I get back in the car and continue my journey.

Night falls. I keep driving. I need to get as far away from home as possible before I stop. After twenty hours on the road, I can go no further. I find a rundown motel at the edge of a town. They rent rooms by the hour, day, week or month. Checking in, I pay for the room for a week up front. I settle in and then go across the parking lot to the restaurant for lunch.

My last meal…. Knowing this I choose the most expensive item on the menu: sirloin steak and eggs. The food is greasy and the waitress isn’t much better. She is pretty rude, but I leave a decent tip anyway.

I go back to the room and lock the door. I change into sweatpants and a t-shirt. I am so exhausted that I decide to sleep before finishing the job. I sleep, a deep, dreamless sleep, for more than twenty-four hours. When I awake, I realize that by know my boss is realizing that I will not be coming in. I feel a slight twinge of regret knowing that my children, my babies, have to go to school without seeing me. I wish I had been able to say goodbye to them. I think about calling them, but if I do I have failed. I consider just going home, play it off as another bored suburban housewife taking a vacation.

I get the phone and dial the now-familiar number. His voice resounded through my head.

“I had about decided that you had changed your mind, my dear.”

“No. I drove as far away as I could and then had to sleep. I wanted to be well rested before I saw you. “

“Okay, that is good because it will be a while before you have a chance to sleep again.”

His voice gave me the shivers. I thought of what he said and what was before me. Was it worth it?

“You aren’t getting cold feet now are you?”

“No, I am ready. What do you need me to do?”

“Nothing really. Just lay down and try to sleep some more.”

“Okay. I will see you later?”

“Yes. You will see me sooner than you might think.”

I hung up the phone and lay down on the bed. I had no idea how I was going to sleep.

I feel him coming into the room. I could sense his presence even though my eyes were closed. The room is increasingly getting warmer, too warm in fact. I can smell sulfur, like the smell of a match being lit. I open my eyes and look around. I am in a large, cave-like room. There is a huge fire in the center of the room. That must be why it is so warm. I wonder why he built it so large. By the fire there is a pile of skins. It looks as if he is planning that to be our bed.

I hear a small noise. I turn. There he is. A huge man dressed in a black tuxedo. He looks as if he is planning to go to a party rather than fulfilling a contract in a cave. He looked as out of place in this room as I felt.

“Why are we in a cave?”

“Shall I make it more comfortable?” He raised his arm. Instantly, the room was transformed to a luxurious bedroom. The fire was still roaring, in a fireplace now. It was still quite warm. I found myself lying on a huge four-poster bed that was heaped with pillows and blankets.

“Is this better?”

“A little. It is too warm. I kind of wish that it wasn’t so obvious what was going to happen.”

“Get used to the warmth. I didn’t see any reason to waste energy on unnecessary things. I would think you would want me to conserve my energy.” He laughed wickedly.

While he was getting the paperwork for the contract together, I reflected on what I had done. I was entering into a contract with a demon to keep my family from living on the streets. When he had contacted me, my house was in foreclosure and my car was falling apart. I was considering bankruptcy or suicide. Whatever I needed to do to insure that my family would survive.

One afternoon I called on a personal ad, which claimed to solve all legal problems. The man who answered made an appointment for me the next day. In exchange for sex, they would pay all of my bills and make sure that my family was cared for. They had taken care of the mortgage already. I needed to make my first payment to them.

I was starting to get really nervous now. Would this be like sex with a human? I had no way of knowing what this demon would expect. I also did not know if he was going to release me to go home or not. That part was unclear to me. I had been so desperate to save my family that I signed the paperwork anyway.

He came back into the room. The receipt of my payment to them was ready.

“Alright, my dear. Here is the receipt. You will receive it when we are done and then you can go back to your old life until next month.”

“So, I will make monthly payments? For how long?”

“For the rest of your natural life. Didn’t you read the contract before you signed it?”

“Sort of. I was pretty desperate.”

“Okay.” He was very patient, like he was speaking to a child. “This is the terms of our agreement. We paid off your house. When you get home we will start depositing money to cover your other bills into your account. You will receive enough money to cover your bills each month for the rest of your life. You will pay us with sexual favors. These favors will be proportionate to the money we give you. You will have children for us and raise them to be normal human children. At the age of five, we will bring them into our realm for training. We figure you have two or three more children in you before you are no longer good for breeding stock. At that point, we will just use you as a playmate. You will continue to serve us until your death. And then your soul will belong to us.”

“So, I really sold my soul to pay my bills off? I can’t believe I did this. I know I didn’t see all of this on the contract I signed, but I did sign it. I guess I will have to make the best of it. The one advantage was that they were going to allow me to go home.

He came and wrapped his arms around me. I was trembling, this was the part I had been dreading.

“Don’t worry, my dear. I won’t hurt you more than is necessary. I will take care of you.” He began to kiss my neck. His lips feel cold on my skin. Everything else is so incredibly hot that I feel faint.

“Wait…I don’t know….”

“Darling, the time for uncertainty has passed. You entered the contract knowing what I wanted in return. It is time for you to pay for my services.”

I don’t know what to say and I know there is no escape. I am trying to relax and I know that he senses that. He begins to move his hands over me, removing my clothing as he goes. When I am standing naked before him, he releases a hiss and I see his tongue. It is forked like a snake. I moan and all goes black.

When I come to, he is kneeling over me, running his snake tongue over my body. He gives me a wicked grin when my eyes open.

“Ahhhhh you are awake. I didn’t want to finish without you.”

With a deft move, he parts my legs and enters me. He moves quickly, the heat building. I can hardly stand it. He begins hissing again. Despite my fear and revulsion, I feel my body betray me. I cry out as I reach a climax. He hisses once more and collapses upon me. Amazingly, instead of crushing me he gets lighter. I look at him amazed. He gradually shrinks down, until he becomes a snake and slithers off of my body and away into the night.

I wake with a start. I am back in the hotel room. I know, without being told that I am pregnant with the demon’s child. I go into the bathroom and take a shower, a lot cooler of a shower than I usually would. Then I call home to let them know I will be home tomorrow. I am going home to my new life.

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