Dusty and Duke
Talk about an odd couple. The two of them grew up together.
Duke was a show quality harrier. His markings and conformation perfect, but his habit of chewing on everything in sight as he lost his puppy teeth landed him in puppy lock up. We rescued him at approximately four months of age from the Calgary SPCA. I wish we hadn't had to sign the documents agreeing to neuter him, but it was that or my husband's heart would break. The two of them bonded inside of five minutes in the room where they take you to decide if that dog you thought would be right, is right.
When our dog was still a puppy, we fell in love with a parrot. This bird was in a cage with seven orange winged Amazon parrots. He was shy and skinny. He was missing one of his toenails on his right foot. And he was bullied. Your classic underdog in a clutch of one of the last wild caught parrots brought into Canada in the early 1980's. We scrimped, saved, begged, and borrowed until we had the $350.00 scraped together to bring him and a beat up old cage we found in the Bargain Finder, home.
Duke was instantly curious. We already had a trio of cockatiels who had access to each other's cages. We were considering breeding them, and they lived under the hanging plants in the front bay window of the townhouse we were renting. We set up Dusty's tray and perch right beside our fish tank where two giant sized Oscar's resided. His cage , where he only stayed overnight and when we were out, was in our kitchen.
Poor bird, he had no idea what his wings were for. We figured he was taken from a wild next before he was fully fledged out. Never saw a wild bird fly because they next inside a hollow. Duke was right there, every time Dusty fell off his tray, thumping onto the carpet, and then walking around looking for a way to use his beak and feet to climb up on anything. The living room curtains were one of his favorite things. We often found Duke sitting at the bottom and Dusty hanging upside down from the curtain rod.
That's how our parrot learned to trust us. Jim was the one to rescue him from his high perches. In the end, Dusty was my bird, although it was Jim who taught how to use his wings and fly. We moved a couple of times over the years, but while we were in our house, the two of them truly became best friends. Dusty learned to talk, and often called the dog by name. Duke would spend his time curled up under his feathered friend's cage when we were at work.
Pizza crusts were their favorite treats. Dusty would take one back to his perch and sit nibbling all of the cheese a sauce off, then reach down to where Duke waited patiently drooling. The exchange was incredible to watch. Duke with his gentle mouth. He caught escaped finches, without hurting them, would wait until Dusty extended it down. The bird hanging by his toes of the edge of the tray under his perch, waited to let go until Duke had firm hold on it. Their transfer was picture perfect. The crust always went straight into the dog's mouth and never ever caused Dusty have to fly to save himself.
Dusty learned to fly up and down the stairs from the basement to the kitchen. Silence upstairs was always trouble. The two of them were expert garbage pickers. There wasn't a garbage can made, they couldn't figure out how to open and then dump all over the floor.
Then they'd share the scraps we scraped off our plates before putting them in the dishwasher. As soon as they heard me coming up the stairs to check on them, I would here the clicking of Dukes paws, and Dusty's toes. The bird always did prefer to walk and climb rather than flying.
The would be under the kitchen table. The spot where we would always find Duke when he'd done something he shouldn't have. The spot where we banished him when he needed a time out. The bird right there with him perched on his back preening the fur on his neck.
When the inevitable happened and Duke passed away, our bird was as heartbroken as we were. He would fly from room to room calling for his pal, until we realized we had to move. For all of us, it was more than difficult to stay in a place where everything reminded us of a loyal companion who was no longer with us.
I wish the different races in our world could understand love forms easily if we let it. A dog and a parrot, and not a small one either, shouldn't be friends like they were. They taught us, and a lot of our friends who met them, size, shape and color mean nothing if you see past them to the soul, the rest doesn't matter. Natural enemies in many ecosystems, their bond was tighter than many married couples. Wake up world. If they can do it, we can too.
The Curse of Horax
His fur, as he ran was tinged white with moonlight, and I didn’t feel the slippery stones as I paced beside him down the creek behind our lair. Our fates were intertwined, our lives a cosmic comedy.
At the moment, the moon grew full, he turned into his animal twin. The wolf beside me stood shoulder high, terrifying in his glorious strength. My hand rested lightly on his shoulder as I scrambled along the wet path, we chose this night. Grasping a handful of his coarse outer fur, I launched myself up and vaulted onto his back. We continued, hunting for the meat we would need to sustain us through the moon phases. The deer we searched for couldn’t be far ahead, we’d startled the buck with the blue eyes as he drank at his favorite pool.
Perhaps this time, we’d catch him. The king of the forest, his elegant rack of antlers declaring his royal lineage. I hoped we’d find food as well, but King Horax was our true prey. His curse ruled our lives.
My mate, who holds my heart in his jaws, slowed, sniffing. His nose wrinkling as he slipped up the steep slope. My eyes as sharp in my human form as those of the hawk I lived with as my own twin, saw the tracks. Boar. Piglets in fact. If we were lucky, we’d have half a dozen of them for our meat supply for the next weeks, until the next full moon.
There beside a moonlit spring, I saw both prey and food. Slipping my sling from my wrist I fished round stones from my pouch. Swift motions, efficient and deadly sent missiles one after another dropping four larger piglets. I’d have to braid a rope to tie them together and sling them over Roark’s shoulders. He’d carry them home to our nest.
The king watched impassively. He’d observed our hunts often, always with in striking distance until I tried with my sling to hit his forehead. He’d sense my movements every time, month after month. I’d never connected. Never brought him down. This time, I looked at my reflection, lithe curvaceous runner, in the still moon lit pool and swore we’d get him. I crouched, my long red mane, dragging in the water. I was only the bait this time.
Roark was the hunter. His sin, the reason for the curse? The king, his brother wanted me for his own. The moment the moon waned, I returned to being a hawk once more, and he became my mate. No longer wolf, he would be then man I loved. Neither of us able to touch or love as humans who crave each other. This time he’d catch his brother and force the end of the curse.
Roark sprang from the bush, taking his brother’s throat. I stood, flinging stone after stone from my sling, peppering his forehead with thudding precision. This time we’d win our freedom to love. Or will we?
Big Hill Springs
A short drive north and west of Calgary, there's a small provincial park with an amazing waterfall. Spring fed from the side of a hill, the creek rushes through prairie grasslands. The winter ice begins to break up in the middle of April, and as I remember the year was 2010 the last time we spent an afternoon capturing photos of birds as they stopped on their long migration north.
The pristine white backs of canvas back ducks as they paddled between ice clad creek banks.
A pair of trumpeter swans who claimed the single pond like expanse of the only pool along the muddy path.
Flocks of Canada geese feeding in the farmer's field across from the access road.
But most intriguing, the Blue Herons. Several pairs paused here. My husband was fascinated. They are the only long necked bird which retracts its head while in flight.
He spent hours capturing series of pictures showing the process. His excitement was gratifying. His heart condition kept him for so many of the things he loved. Even though this was a quick stop on the way to get lunch, we stayed. I swallowed my complaints and got my own camera out of my tote bag. His was a Canon Rebel with a lot of great lenses to switch between. Mine was a tiny compact Samsung. I can't claim to see the difference, but his captured way more detail than mine, so cropping and enlarging from his images was always an amazing process.
Between hummocks of snow covered grass, the elegant deep blue herons picked their way through the meandering creek banks. Beaks stabbing into the water with swift decisive movements, I knew they were hunting for frogs, but all we could see were a few early tadpoles wiggling between reeds along the shore. My husband hung out of the car window, his long lens supported by one hand, as he rested on his knees in the passenger seat. A passionate photographer, he was like my mother. While pursuing the perfect shot, neither of them were aware of their surroundings as far as personal danger went.
I sympathized with my father as I drove the muddy road to the parking lot several times. Each time one of the herons startled and flew, his camera clicked furiously, capturing time lapse exposures. I concentrated on the canvas back ducks, the swans and the myriad of honking Canada geese. In the city center these opportunists already claimed the most impossible nesting sites. Silly goose is very appropriate when it comes to nesting on twelfth floor balconies, planter pots in the middle meridian of a busy road, or a backyard blocks away from the nearest creek, river or lake.
As the sun dipped to the west, giving us another target to shoot as clouds lit with fiery beauty, he finally realized his stomach was growling.
"Why didn't you stop me?" He always was a bear when he finally figured out he needed to eat.
"You would have bit my head off for interrupting you. Besides, I got a lot of shots too. So let's pack up your gear and head into town for ribs at Tony's. We missed celebrating our anniversary on the first, so let's do it now."
The smile on his face was worth all the grumbling as we worked our way through traffic and back into the city. I didn't know it then, but his depression would worsen, and his heart condition was fatal. But that was future me's problem. The day was one of the bright moments between the dark gray of survival with a serious debilitating disease. I still have the prints we made hanging on my walls. A beautiful moment captured forever to bring joy as I remember.
I leave my love
in our bed,
my heart is his
or so I said
And up the stairs
he reaches out
he holds my hands
My soul constricts
his touch is mad
and love blooms
a big, big, bad
I want them both
my mind in shreds
my body rules
and guilt spreads
And before the final act
of total betrayal
my vows remind me
of love's true portrayal
We can finally change our avatar picture. Thank you Prose for finally fixing this! All you newbies out there who couldn't post one at all, go to settings and fix your blank profiles.
The Stone Alter
Secluded in the swamp
New Orleans a distant
of Spanish moss
of rotted logs
Stands a skeleton
white between sapling
tupelo and cypress
Alligators worship at
the stone altar
of the Voodoo Queen's lair
serving horror as its fare
Bones litter the algae slime
hiding shards of stained glass
And the Devil and God
Those who suffer here
shall never be free
I never actually type the end as I finish a novel. Once again I am slightly drained as I say goodbye to a set of identical twins. Torn apart by a twist of fate, they have found their answers and each other. The novel turned out to be just a few words over 40K which I hope makes it short enough to be considered a novella.
I can't explain the feeling when I finish a single novel, meant to stand alone without a sequel. It's like a death, but not. I'll visit these characters again, as I edit and tweak. I hope those who read it find a great escape. Mirror Image was written for the Wattpad Open Novella Contest which takes place annually starting on Feb 1st with a complete novella to submitted by April 30th. This is the second time I've managed it.
Last year the list of prompts did not inspire me at all. This year, the prompt where two teenagers run into each other in a school hallway to find they look exactly alike inspired a thriller/teen fiction novella. I need to get back to other characters and finish up on them now. Tomorrow, is the third in a series. Ninety Degrees Out is another stand alone set in the early days after a disastrous event changes Earth forever.
Meanwhile I hope I can do justice to a few challenges here. I've neglected Prose horribly over the last month as the drive to complete a book in horribly short time took over everything. I did manage a few in the first two months of the contest period, but over 20K was written in the last three weeks. Yesterday was the basic edit to get rid of missed words, missed punctuation and all the other pesky first draft problems we all are familiar with.
And the characters from the Promises Series, are poking at me to tell the final story and vanquish Axtra forever. I'm not sure I'm ready to delve into William and Gideon's world, where dragons and griffins fly free and an evil witch is gathering her power once more. After all the third time is lucky. William and Gideon have both aged, and their families and friends are anxiously waiting for salvation.
The world of an author is a strange place. May your characters lead you down wondrous paths into new worlds as you explore your imagination. Mine take me away every day. I hope yours will too.
Green glorious ghosts
Two become one
Stars glowed bright
Cascade and swirl
Red, violet, white
Azure, crimson might
Shout an oath
To love again
“Guard this object with your life!”
He handed me a small brass box, which rattled loudly was he handed it over.
“What’s in it?”
“I can’t tell you, but if you open it, the world will not be the same.”
The man turned on his heel, leaving me with the ornate oblong container. Intricate scroll work and etching adorned the lid and sides and a complicated puzzle lock hung through two loops snugging the lid to the rim. It jumped again and I sighed.
Walking over to the two racks of sliding drawers in the wall, I pulled the one in the lower left corner open and dropped the newest container in with four others. This one was brass, two were ornate gold and silver creations, and two were carved of exotic hardwoods. The only thing they had in common were the locks, which I confess, I’d tried to figure out. No luck yet.
Watching, I noticed an almost imperceptible movement as the boxes aligned themselves in welcome. What was in these things?
Fascinated, I observed them wiggle and jump until little unseen prongs on their sides interlocked. I’d separated them often enough to know they’d perform the same dance until they snuggled together again.
Something must be alive inside.
Intelligence and communication was going on here. How could they be dangerous, the boxes were only 10 cm. square. The new one wasn’t any different. And why were these people coming to me, and giving me the boxes?
Five people, not one of whom introduced themselves, over the last five days. Why would they seek me out, a coroner for God’s sake? The first one had given his to my secretary. Guard this with your life, had been all he said. She’d come back immediately, carrying the first silver box. Now she directed each new arrival back to my office. This last one hadn’t been as trance like and gave me another clue. Don’t open it. It will change the world.
Well dissection is my best thing. Picking up the entire conglomerate, I took it into my workspace. Cleaned from the last autopsy, the stainless steel table was pristine, and I dropped the boxes on the surface. They skittered toward the side like they knew what I was about to attempt. Five boxes, hooked together in the form of a cross, moving like one mind controlled them all wriggling to escape the scalpel. But I caught them, inserting the blade in the tiny seam in the lid of the wooden block
I woke trying to remember what happened. Voices assaulted my ears. A din copious with variety and I understood them all. Begging, pleading, bargaining, for love, forgiveness, life, even death, the dirge was deafening.
My body gone, nothing but my thoughts to indicate I was at all, I heard one gleeful voice above the rest.
Curiosity killed the cat. I wish you luck God.
Gypsies of the Sky
We wander in eccentric
Destined to revisit our path
In days or millennia
We shed our debris
Jostling our cousins
the shards of our
Billows of light
Nudge new life
of balanced strife
For where we must go
We always return
Change is slow
Collision our game
The matrix binding us all