The Hawk Has Landed


(My girls have been teaching me about “Flash Fiction” or stories of extreme brevity, usually 1000 words or less. Here we go.)

Falconry-the sport of nobles.

Falconry-the sport of nobles.

In another life, Louisa had been a falconer. Now, as leader of the village, falconry was a collaborative effort, left largely to the young and energetic. Still, from time to time, Louisa would canter out to the village green with Desmond, her favorite peregrine on her leather glove. Desmond was an unusually good hunter, and the pair would often return with several rabbits in her game bag.

Today was a beautiful day for a hunt. Louisa rubbed her hand over her neck and cheek, feeling the ropy scars of past battles. No matter, pretty faces were for silly women, she thought as she cantered off.

Louise loved the feel of the wind in her dreadlocks, and the creak of the leather saddle as her horse picked up speed. Desmond took wing, and Louisa could look up and see him keeping pace above. They cantered through the forest and toward the field, and suddenly, Desmond streaked to the ground.

“A catch? So soon? Let’s see! ” Louisa brought a tidbit of dried meat out of her bag and whistled. Desmond rose from the deep grass, dragging a meaty rabbit in his angular claws. Louisa stopped to appreciate the spare beauty of the bird. He had broken the rabbit’s neck cleanly and quickly.

“Brilliant! “Louisa whooped. Desmond dropped the rabbit and Louisa nabbed it mid air. Desmond’s black head glistened in the morning sun as he settled on her glove.

“Desmond, my love, let’s see what else the King of Heaven has in store for us today.” The pair continued the trot to the grassy glen.

Lists, lists, things to do, people to look out for, children to lead, mouths to feed. Louisa’s head slowly began to clear of all of these things as she concentrated on the moment at hand. She and Desmond made their way over to a fallen tree, and dismounted into a patch of fragrant greenery.

“Aha! Wild mint! The ladies and old men will thank me for this remedy.” She smiled inwardly. Louisa had no desire for more childbearing, but the younger women looked to her for guidance, and wild mint soothed female problems of all sorts. Good for the stomachs of cranky old men, too. She began to gather.

Desmond sidestepped up to her shoulder, and clung to her dreadlocks with one brightly colored claw. He was large for a male, most hunters of his breed were smaller than the females.But Desmond was nearly as large as his female counterpart.

Desmond and Louisa

Desmond and Louisa

The hissing was upon them almost before Louisa knew it. A whoosh, a sudden chill in the air, and a violent churning around them. Desmond squawked and flapped, both claws digging into Louisa’s scarred neck. She dropped to the ground instinctually. She cast her arms into the air, in a ‘Fly’ gesture that Desmond usually responded to. They rolled on the ground together, Desmond narrowly taking wing before Louisa accidentally crushed him.

What in the name of the King of Heaven was going on? Louisa rolled onto her back and looked skyward. An enormous black bird, the likes of which she had never seen, was pursuing her falcon. Desmond was an excellent climber and flew higher, higher to get away from his pursuer. The foreign bird was black with an enormous wingspan, so black that he looked like a moving hole in the sky, a tear in the fabric of the beautiful blue sky day.

Louisa bounded to her feet, frantic. What to do? She reached into her boot and withdrew her favorite dagger and turned to throw. A quick judgement told her that they were too far away, so she rummaged in her saddle bags for a throwing star. Quickly, she pulled out two of the deadly rounded pieces of metal and sent them into the air. One of them missed the black bird narrowly, and the other disappeared, as if swallowed into nothingness.

Suddenly another voice started speaking nearby. Louisa couldn’t understand the words, but somehow she felt as though she should know them. Familiar, somehow.

A powerful male voice uttered the words sotto voce, over and over. Louisa kept her eyes on the birds, it was easy to lose a falcon.

“Rex caeli! Rex caeli! Indulgentia! Auferte malum! Auferte malum!   The voice took on a pleading note. The birds drew closer, suddenly another, larger falcon came to the aid of Desmond. First one, then another, then a third. They swarmed the black bird, streaking, diving, clawing. Desmond folded his wings and made a straight dive to the earth, pulling up at the last possible moment, and winged his way to Louisa. She heaved a sigh, and turned toward the voice.

“What did you say? What happened?” she demanded. She looked in the sky again, the three beautiful falcons had disappeared, and the huge black bird was a spot in the distance.

The owner of the voice was a graying, muscular man with an erect bearing. He stood his ground, and looked at Louisa straight on, undeterred by her battle scarred face.

“King of heaven, show mercy. Banish the evil one. ” He turned away, and walked toward his own mount, tethered not far away.

Unexpected aid

Unexpected aid

“Wait!” Louisa whispered.  The Evil one?

 “Wait!” Her voice rose.  “Are you a servant of the Most High too?” Her voice rose again.

The man turned. A peregrine of identical size landed and settled on his own glove.

“Yes. I am. They call me Hawk.”

Advertisements

National Novel Writing Month Has Begun!


NaNoWriMo_2

NaNoWriMo_2 (Photo credit: nataliesap)

Hello gentle readers, how good to see you again!

I’m sitting at a National Novel Writing Month event. It’s a gathering of purple haired, overweight, Whovian,Trekkies,  pierced, inked and costumed people who have one thing in common; we all want to write a novel.

NANOWRIMO is a non profit out of Berkely, California, and is formerly known as the Office of Letters and Light. Over five hundred thousand aspiring novelists will join this crazed effort during the month of November. (nanowrimo.org) This is the fifth time for Faith, my nineteen year old, and also the fifth time for Rachael, who will be sixteen in December.

Nano is actually one of a long list of things that gives me hope for the future. It seems as though my role in life is evolving more into that of an observer, and I’m not sure I like what I see. Passive consumption of media is now the norm of most people in my circles. More and more eyes are fastened to some sort of screen, more hands are full of electronics. Fewer solid interpersonal connections are made these days, with so much electronic distraction.

I’ve noticed that with these two things comes a lack of engagement in the world. Nano is a wonderful antidote to that. If I had to guess, I would say that no one sitting around me has the equipment appear to be successful. Not a cleft jaw in sight, no tiny waistlines on any of these women. A youthful costumed flapper is sitting next to an authentically clad Starfleet admiral who is tapping earnestly away next to a middle aged Girl Scout. I would venture to say that most Nano participants are happier beside a crowd, rather than in the middle of it.

This event began at ten pm, Halloween night. I got here past eleven, and the festivities were in full swing. No one knew each other from real life, and it didn’t matter a whit. Everyone is united with purpose, we are all going to be the Next Big Thing in the writing world.

No matter that our collective attention span is diminishing, no matter that most Americans prefer the image to the written word, no matter that actual book sales have been declining for years. Everyone sitting here believes in the power of the story, and that, my friends, is the beauty of it all.

So off we go! Victoria is writing again, and I look forward to seeing you all in the middle of it.

Much love,

V

Merry Christmas From Granada! Angels, Part 3.


Snow Angel

Snow Angel (Photo credit: Atelier Teee)

We visit the Alhambra today and the ancient Plaza Nuevo. I’ll show you what I mean later, but Christmas ‘getting’ is everywhere. How about some Chrismas ‘giving’ to start your day? Thanks so much for the positive notes. It makes me happy to think fellow Visitors get a little joy out of these things, Much love,

V

Chapter 6: Joseph and the New Shoes 

Angel 013

Angel 013 (Photo credit: Juliett-Foxtrott)

 Night had come, and another shift at the college was about to start. The kids were in bed. Mark and Mary were three and five, and Taylor was probably still up, working on something from the office.

 I backed the ATV out of it’s shed and steered it around the grounds. This part of the college was often called the “Mushroom”  because of it’s funny looking dome that overarched the entryways. Still, I found the grounds to be beautiful.

I gathered my things, and strapped on my belt. Gloves, pliers, hammer, screwdriver, plastic bags, other assorted tools to keep this place looking good.

It never occurred to me to be embarrassed about my job, it gave me a chance to think. But things weren’t going well between Taylor and me. She was a research physician, and what she saw in the likes of me, was still a mystery, even after seven years of marriage.

I ran a small music shop for my ‘real job’, my partner and I gave guitar  and keyboard lessons to all comers. In this economy though, music lessons were a discretionary item, to be sure. The flow of students had dropped by nearly eighty percent since the recession began. Who could blame them, really? I mean, if you can’t put food on the table, how can you pay for your kid to learn to play Dad’s old Stratocaster?

It was only because Taylor’s job was steady that we stayed afloat at all. I fought off guilt about that, men are supposed to be the provider and all that. I had taken this custodial job at the  college to contribute more to my self esteem than the family budget.

But Mark and Mary? I wouldn’t trade the time I have with them for the world. Taylor’s first pregnancy had caught us both off guard. We should have known better. Both of us were in our twenties, and had just been careless. Surprise!

So the Catholic in me did the right thing, and proposed. I had never had a regular girlfriend, just a string of meaningless partners. I guess that makes me bad or something. I don’t know, I just hoped God was nice enough to let me off the hook. I didn’t mean to be a user, but it’s exhausting to please everyone, and proposing to Taylor seemed to be a relief.

Too bad it didn’t work out that way. At five foot eight and barely a hundred forty, I never felt like much, and being married didn’t change that.

“Joseph? He’s the little one. Don’t pick him, he’s weak.”

“Girly-boy Joseph? Look at his curly hair! He’s so little! He’s a girl!”

Taunts from schoolmates got so repetitive as to be trite.

“Joey? He just hasn’t gotten his growth spurt. I’m sure he’ll be big and strong some day.” My mother still said that, and at thirty five, I had gotten tired of correcting her.

Years of jokes about my size had gotten under my skin. Secretly, I started to work out, to ride my bike to the shop, and lift the weights I stored in my closet. I was stronger than most people thought.

Had to be, for this job. I filled a five gallon drum with water and hefted it through a wrought iron gate to the children’s garden.

The college had a child care center for it’s students and staff, and a lovely garden that I got to maintain.

“Joseph? Mr. Joseph? Is that you? A hissing through the children’s garden caught my ear.

I couldn’t quite make it out. After ten steady years in this business, I was a little afraid I was losing my hearing.

A small dark figure darted out from behind the flower wagon.

“Mr. Joseph!”

“Tommy! What are you doing here? It must be near midnight! “

Tommy ‘hung out’ quite often at the college.The food was subsidized and no one bother him.

“Please don’t send me home, Mr. Joseph. Dad got drunk and threw me out again. He says I bin dealin’, and that’s just not true! He found some glass in my brother’s room, and Jeremy said it was mine! It just ain’t so! “

The teenager’s teeth gleamed in the starless night. I could barely make him out. His coffee colored face radiated anxiety.

“Well , shit ,Tommy. Sorry. Shoot. Now how would meth get into you brother’s room unless you put it there? You’re the one in high school. What’s Jeremy? Fourteen?”

“How the hell should I know where he got it? “ Tommy’s voice rose to a whine.

“But I know that stuff. We have meth monkeys all over school, with their rotten teeth and twitchy attitudes. Skinny as poles, too. I ain’ t no meth monkey.”

I believed him. Something about his demeanor seemed to ordinary, too sixteen and squirrelly to be drug induced. I walked with him over to the sodium lights in the parking lot.

“You can’t stay here, Tommy. Where are you gonna go in the morning?” Tommy shifted on the pavement, as if it were burning his feet.

I looked down, aghast.

“Tommy! Your feet! What the hell happened to your feet? “

Tommy was small for his age, too. He had the feet of a twelve year old boy, and they were cut and bleeding.

“Have your shoes gone missing?”

“Naw. Dad got the baseball bat. I know when he gets the baseball bat I  better get the hell outta there right quick. “

I sat down, frustrated. What a thing to do to a kid. All the rotten decisions, all the missed opportunities in my life, one thing I was proud of. Two actually, and they were both at home tucked in their beds.

“Get in the car, Tommy.”

Taylor and I would have words, I’m sure. Money was always tight. But there are some things you just can’t let go.

“Anyone you can stay with tonight, Tommy? “ We pulled into the nearby Target.

“Yaw, my cousin lives down the street. She told me any time my dad gets going to come and stay with her an’ her kids. I can go there.”

“Ok, let’s go shopping.”

The Target was still open. Tommy and I trotted to the boys aisle, and slid down the polished tile floors. I used to love to do that when I was a kid, and had on slippery shoes.

One hour and seventy dollars later, Tommy and I walked out of the store, with two brand new pairs of shoes, size seven. Athletic shoes, because what sixteen year old can be on the b-ball courts without good shoes, and ‘fancy shoes’ for school. Just a pair of Dockers, but he promised he would wear them, especially on band days. Tommy loved the trumpet as much as I loved the guitar.

We got back into the car, chattering like children.

“Gotta girlfriend, Tommy?”

“Phht. Not me, Mr. Joseph. Look at me, I’m ugly. It’s easier for me to look mean. That way no one messes with me. What’re your babies doing? “

The boy directed me to a scarier part of town. The houses were run down, and closer together.

“Mark and Mary? Oh, They’re awesome. Growing so fast.”

“Just a little further, Mr. Joseph. Can I use your phone? “ He called a number, said “yeah” a bunch of times, and gave it back to me.

“She says it’s fine. She says you’re the best, and a real angel.”

“Look! There she is now!” A middle aged black woman with wirey grey hair came down the steps, pulling a terrycloth wrapper behind her. She tied the wrap around her, and opened her arms to Tommy before he even got out of the car.

Tommy opened the door and leapt out of the car, before I could bring it to a full stop.

He looked over his shoulder as he ran to the welcoming figure.

“Thank you Mr. Joseph! You’re the best! A real Angel from Heaven!”

Sabbatical in a Teacup: Day Thirteen. Angels Among Us – Introduction and First Presentation


  • Good evening from the French Riveria, friends. We had a wonderful trip to the medieval town and gardens of Eze, and toured the Fragonard parfumerie beneath. I am working on some lovely pictures for your enjoyment, because we truly had a nice time, and including you folks makes me happy.

But, part of my ‘bucket list’ for Sabbatical in a Teacup was to fiish my National Novel Writing Month book, and it is done. What a relief!

Here’s a little background though, because I’m actually a terrible cheat and poseur. The goal for NaNoWriMo participants is to crank out a 50,000 word novel in the space of one single month.

I’ll let you in on  a little secret: Big goals scare the hell out of me. I cut it in half.

50,000 words is around 200 pages, or a normal novel. I figured if I could crank out 25,000 words in a comprehensible story, I’d be doing pretty well. So I did. A little more, actually, not quite 26,000. It’s about a hundred and fifteen pages.

So here’s a chapter. The premise is based on Psalm 91:11, the verse where God promises to “give his angels charge concerning you”, and the Skillet song I referred to in a post a few weeks ago. (Looking for Angels -Skillet, 2008, I think)

Now, since Chris died, angels have been a source of interest to me. I do believe they exist in the spiritual realm, heck, I think there’s a lot more going on in the spiritual realm then most people, even Christians, care to acknowledge.

But I also think that angels can manifest in a more concrete form, mainly you and me. This first chapter is lightweight, and actually happened. You have to get the visual here, to truly get the magnificence of the action. So read along, if you will, and picture with me.

Angel Babies

Baby Cuddler Wanted

Baby Cuddler Wanted

 

Larissa was only nine months old. She had just mastered the ability to sit up, and was reaching nicely with her hands for objects. She cried when Mom left the room, and smiled and stretched out her arms when Mom or Dad  came back.Erica was only a month younger. Their mothers were friends, college buddies, even. They had been pregnant together, given each other baby showers, even took vacations together.

Now, their baby girls were in the same preschool together, sharing the same schedule, and the same nursery.I was their teacher, if you can call it that. I had spent nearly nineteen years in a pediatric oncology wing, and that was way more than most. Finally, I had had enough of watching the smallest victims of this terrible scourge of childhood cancer.

Infant development had always fascinated me though. So when the local preschool advertised a ‘Baby Cuddler Wanted,’ I jumped at the chance.I didn’t need the money. Larry and I had plenty of pension cash every month, but I was beginning to get a little bored. But gonzo twelve hour shifts as a charge nurse? I think not.

Today was an easy day, and I sat both of the girls down in the fine motor play area. It was soft, lined with pillows, special seats to hold developing infants, and baskets of toys appropriate for little hands to dig through.

The “Bumbo” seat was a special, molded chair for infants like Erica. Shaped roughly like an inverted bowl, the idea was to sit the infant in a deep, pliable well, to support the developing stabilizer muscles. This left the hands free for reaching and grasping.

I sat Erica in the Bumbo, and placed Larissa a short distance away. A large part of my job with these children was watching. I used my professional eye to document these kids’ activities during the day, and gleaned a lot simply by watching how these children interacted with each other.

Erica started to cry. Larissa turned her head and noticed. Larissa looked at me, as if to ask “Aren’t you going to do anything about this state of affairs?”

I smiled encouragingly at Larissa. Aha! The green giraffe!

Erica loved that stuffed green giraffe. She loved to sleep with it, wave it around, gnaw on it, and now, couldn’t quite reach it.

She strained from her Bumbo seat. Strained and strained, but couldn’t quite figure out how to tilt her torso just a little bit to give herself the extra bit of reach.

Larissa watched this with interest. She rolled over to her side, and using her newly learned crawl, started to crawl over to Erica. Slowly, slowly, she inched her way over to her friend.

I leaned over to pick up  the green giraffe and give it to Erica, but something stopped me. Just wait a minute.

Larissa continued her determined crawl as Erica’s crying escalated.

Just give her the giraffe, part of me said. She can’t reach it yet!

Larissa finally reached the giraffe. Laboriously, as if telling every part of her tiny body what to do, she sat up next to the toy. Carefully, she picked up the green giraffe with both hands. Erica got even more angry. Larissa had her precious toy!

Larissa got a good grip on the neck of the stuffed animal, and very deliberately, handed it to Erica.

Erica’s cries stopped as if by a switch. Here eyes widened and she smiled at Larissa, and made happy cooing sounds. She grabbed the prized giraffe, and stuffed it in her mouth.

Larissa smiled next to her friend, and put her hand on the seat, as if satisfied. Mission accomplished.

(PS, My devoted readers, please don’t send me any Bumbo recall notices. I know, and I use them on the floor, and only around pillows, and with the strap. It’s all good. ) 

So there we are. Part of a series of loosely woven episodes. Mostly true, some explainable, like this one, some not so much.

Thanks SO much for getting to the bottom of this. Do me a favor then, if you liked the writing of this, would you hit the “like” button? I’d like to know what you think.  Authors can never tell if their own work is dreck, or pretty interesting. Thanks!

Look forward to hearing from you.

Eze and Nice are next.

Much love,

Victoria

Whew! So, here we are.


Hello, friends, long time no see.

Here’s the update on the book. It’s called “Angels Among Us” loosely based on Psalm 91:11. Here it is:

11For he will command his angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways;

12they will lift you up in their hands,

so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

Also, on this Skillet song “Looking for Angels” To my dear subscribers, you’ll have to open another window and cut and paste the address. I can’t figure out how to make the box appear like it does with Facebook readers. Sorry. It’s worth it.

Here are some of the the words, for those of us who still can’t make it out.
“Looking For Angels”

Going through this life looking for Angels
People passing by, looking for Angels.Walk this world alone try to stay on my feet

Sometimes crawl, fall, but I stand up cause I’m afraid to sleep
And open my eyes to a new day, with all new problems and all new pain
All the faces are filled with so much anger
Losing our dignity and hope from fear of danger
After all the wars, after settling the scores, at the break of dawn we will be deaf to the answers

There’s so much bigotry, misunderstanding and fear
With eyes squinted and fists clinched we reach out for what is dear
We want it we want
We want a reason to live
We’re on a pilgrimage
A crusade for hope
Cause in our hearts and minds and souls we know

We need it we need
We need more than this

[Chorus:]
Going through this life looking for angels
People passing by looking for angels
Walking down the streets looking for angels
Everyone I meet looking for angels

So many nations with so many hungry people
So many homeless scrounging around for dirty needles
On the rise, teen suicide, when we will realize
we’ve been desensitized by the lies of the world
We’re oppressed and impressed by the greedy
Whose hands squeeze the life out of the needy
When will we learn that wars, threats, and regrets are the cause and effect of living in fear

[Chorus]

I became a savior to some kids I’ll never meet
Sent a check in the mail to buy them something to eat
What will you do to make a difference, to make a change?

What will you do to help someone along the way?
Just a touch, a smile as you turn the other cheek
Pray for your enemies, humble yourself, love’s staring back at me
In the midst of the most painful faces
Angels show up in the strangest of places

I love this piece. I recently had a talk with a friend of mine who had taken a terrible blow to his health. He had brought it on himself, years of meth, heroin, and nicotine had finally wrung it out of him. He’s frightened, lonely, worried that no one will love him to the end. Who hasn’t been afraid to sleep? Who hasn’t had those kind of lonely fears?
His brain is fearful, his speech is scattered, and he has an incurable STD. I looked at him across the table, and thought again about angels. How can this be? What a mess. I used to love Rafe, a lifetime ago, we had just connected up in recent days, through Facebook of all things.
My book in NaNoWriMo is a beginners book. My daughters are truly putting me to shame, with their complicated plotlines and intricate characters. Mine is a series of episodes, and they are true, largely. Episode to episode, angel to angel, showing up in the strangest of places. If you like, I’ll show you a chapter or two in December.
“He will give his angels charge concerning you.” Maybe it means donning my own wings, taking my friend’s hand, and buying him lunch. Maybe it means suspending my own judgement, loving him in a practical way,  and realizing that I’m in just a big as mess as he, just not so obvious.
Maybe it means it’s always better when love wins.
Victoria

Come Write On In! With a Curtsy to Mel Curtis.


Halloween is almost over, and I’m sitting in the Denver Women’s Press Club. This wonderful old building is situated in the heart of downtown Denver, and currently home to about sixty NaNoWriMo hopefuls. National Novel Writing Month is a self-paced contest sponsored by Amazon and other literary word-pushers, and I have decided to join the frenzy this year.

National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month

Two of my daughters have completed 50,000 word novels in NaNo months, and have put me to shame!

Mel Curtis, the illustrious skydancer and life coach you’ve heard me refer to before, encouraged me to continue to refine my relationship with my daughter Rachael. She’s nearly fifteen, and bored as heck.

With the other three kids off at college, the kid has to contend with a middle age biddy like me at home. All by herself!  Grim.

Fortunately, she’s a rock solid adventurer like the others, and is brimming with ideas. “Mom! Nanowrimo is coming up! Write a novel with Faith and me!”

So here I sit, with nearly a hundred other adventures now, jammed into this tiny, magnificent building built in 1898. This gorgeous brick edifice was originally built as an artist studio, loft and living residence, and the Denver Women’s Press Club was the only  press club in the country at the time to own it’s own building.

Black, jowly older women, white, disheveled twenty year olds, fresh faced teenage boys, and a good sprinkling of people like me are jammed together in this merry mash.

All of us thinking that somewhere, the novels we have in us will make a difference. Make someone smile, heal, or just pass the time in a lighter way. Or just to have the thrill of cranking out 50,000 coherent words in thirty days.

The countdown is five minutes. This is hilarious.

People keep piling in, I can barely keep my elbows in as I type. Chattering about chick lit, realistic fiction, horror, fantasy and other genres fill the air. Men and women, even younger teenagers pile in.

The countdown is three minutes, and the overflow of literary interest is postively inspiring.

One minute! Let’s see what we’ve got!

Much NaNo love,

Victoria