Art and the philosophy of life

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The Mythological Apothecary…19

“And then he just left?” asked Diana.

“Yes,” said Joey.  “He gave this to me,” he continued, showing her the coin.

“It’s a heavy protection charm and you can use it to get help.  Don’t take it off, no mater what.”

“Right.”

“I’ve been thinking about the coffee station.”

“And?”

“It might not be a bad idea.”

“I agree.”

“You made a Fairy Oath with Sparrow?”

“Yes.”

“A Forever Friend Oath.”

“Yes.”

“She can ask you for anything and you’ll have to help her.  The same goes for you.”

“What?”

“That’s what a Forever Friend Fairy Oath is.”

“I didn’t know that,” said Joey. “But I would help her no matter what, anyway.”

“Just so you know, they’re binding oaths.  You can’t break them.”

“I wouldn’t want to break it.  If she needs help, I’ll help her.”

“You heard me say she has to help you as well, right?”

He nodded.

“I don’t know if we can find your mother.”

“I know that.”

“She would be so proud of the way you turned out.”

“Thank you,” he said, shyly.

“Lillyana said that you and Sparrow sang a children’s fairy song and other fairies joined in.”

“Yes.  It was nice.”

“They know you’re here now.”

“Yes.”

“You’ll have to be a lot more careful when you’re not in the shop.  Fairies are curious and they love to tease and play tricks on others.  They can also be mean.”

“I’ll be careful.”

“Always let me know where you are, or where you’re going.”

“Is that really necessary?”

“Yes.  Chester will recognize them, when you go for a walk and Lyllana said that Sparrow sincerely loves you, so she’ll warn others to leave you alone.”

“I’m nobody.  Why would anyone want to do anything to me?”

“They’re fairies…that’s what they do.  And, truthfully, we don’t know that you are nobody.”

“Fine.  Now what about Cormick?”

“What about hm?”

“What is the very bad thing he’s going to do?”

Diana exhaled and shook her head.  “He thinks he can reset the world.  Go back in time and fix history, try and stop war and misery, slavery, the slaughter of Native cultures, save the environment, and all the rest.  He wants to use the knowledge of today, to stop what happened in the past.”

“Is that a bad thing?”

“Of course it is.  We aren’t supposed to meddle with time.”

“Why not?”

“What do you mean, why not?”

“It sounds like a great idea.  No World wars, no Viet Nam, Korea, Middle East fighting.  Maybe he could eliminate religions as well and stop deadly diseases before they begin.”

“You can’t come up with a cure for something that doesn’t exist, Joey.  It has to exist for you to study it and stop it.”

“He can use medication from now, to stop…”

“There won’t be any equipment in the past to make the medicine, at least not right away.”

“Maybe he can eliminate the diseases before they begin.  What about stopping the great depression?”

“Joey, we aren’t supposed to change time.”

“Who said so?”

“I…it’s…” she stammered.

“No one, that’s who.  Either that, or men who want to control what happens said it.  I think Cormick might be on to something.”

“Joey…”

“No.  If he can erase even some of the horrors of what we have done, stop them before they even start, then I’m for it.”

“But you don’t know what will be left in its place.”

“Do you believe anything could be worse?”

“I don’t know,” she said.  “And neither do you. What if he kills Hitler and the person who takes his place is worse and wins the war?”

“I would be willing to take that chance.”

“Joey, look what’s happening right now and we can’t even stop that.”

“We’re heading toward a burned out world, or extinction.  We could save species, get rid of the hold men have over everyone, once and for all.  Bring true equality into the world.”

“You sound like Cormick, ” she said, sadly.

“Do I?”

She nodded.  “You do.  It’s frightening.”

“So you think we should just continue as we are?”

“I think we should change what we have now, not go backward and change things from there.”

“All those years, all those lives, lost to war and, in case you haven’t noticed, we haven’t changed a single thing for the better.  Things are getting worse and we’re not only killing ourselves, we’re killing the planet, the air water, soil and other species.”

“We don’t know that peace would take its place.”

“So, you’re more afraid of what you don’t know, than what you do?” he asked.

“Joey, I have potions and spells to make.  I’ll be in the lab,” she said, walking away.  “Give me any ideas you have about the coffee spot our customers want.”

“Okay, but I think he’s right.”

 

Starting over…19

“What do you want, James?” asked Lilly, standing in the doorway.  “I thought you hated me and never wanted to see me again.”

He looked down.  “I’m sorry.”

“For?”

“Being an idiot.  I don’t hate you and I know you were doing what you thought was right.”

“Did Jerry tell you to say that?”

“No.  Not really.”

“Come in.”

“Thanks.”

“What do you want?” she asked, again.

“I want things to be the way they were.”

“I’ve moved on.”

“What does that mean?”

“Things can’t be the way they were, but have anymore people offered to fight with you?”

“What do you mean you’ve moved on?  It’s been like five hours.  And yes, everywhere I go people tell me they are here to fight.”

“I’m not in love with you.  I doubt that I ever was. I think it was just the whole being dead together thing that I was feeling and do you have any idea when the fighting will begin?”

“You don’t love me? Why?  Because I don’t know how to fight, or is it because of that Snake person.  I saw the way he looked at you, you know.  He’s crazy about you and I think the fighting will begin soon because the way things are going politically, and because of the unrest in the streets.  That’s the beginning of everything.”

“I’ve known him all my life and yes, we love each other, but it has nothing to do with whether you can fight or not.  I agree, the battle has begun.  What are you going to do about it?”

“So, we’re just working together now?  That’s it?  I’m just supposed to stop caring about you?  I have no idea what I’m supposed to do about ANYTHING in my life right now.”

“Do you want to hold Snowball?”

“NO, I don’t want to hold a hamster, thank you very much.”

“He’s really soft and sweet.”

“Lilly, you are driving me insane.”

“We should talk to Jerry.”

“Why?  He never really has anything useful to say.”

“He told you how to heal yourself.”

“Besides that.”

“Right,” she said.  “Well, here’s what I think.  I think that when the aliens, or whatever they are, start to fight, it will be above the planet, at least at first.  Remember the woman who said the ships were beautiful?  Well, she didn’t mean boats.  So, unless they’re cloaked, like on Start Trek, we should see them.  I think when that happens your light will be so bright that it will call to those on our side, letting them know that it’s time to fight.  I honestly don’t know what you will do after that, but you are the champion, so I suppose whatever will happen, will happen.”

“This whole thing is stupid.”

“I think so too, but it’s what we have.”

“I should have eaten the carrot again.”

“Don’t be silly,” she said.  “How would that help?”

“How am I going to help now?  All I am is a human lightbulb?”

She started laughing.  “A lightbulb.  That’s funny,” she snorted.  “I think you’ll be more like a beacon, or a lighthouse.”

“Great,” he sighed.

“Hi, James”

“Hello, Heather.”

“Have you found out how crazy my sister is yet?”

“She’s not crazy, Heather.  Why are you so angry with her all the time?”

“I…”

“She loves you and you’re always mean to her.”

“I…”

“What did she ever do to you except be born and that wasn’t her fault.  Go hate your mother and father for that.”

“Screw you James,” said Heather, stamping her foot.

“Maybe, if you turn into a nice person, we can talk about that.”

Heather gasped and stormed from the room.

Lilly just stared at him.  “That,” she said, “was brilliant.”

“I’m not a total idiot,” he said.  “She needs to get over herself.”

“James,” said Lilly.  “I think you like my sister.”

“You have to be kidding,” he said, gagging a little.  “She’s horrible.”

“But?”

“There is something about her,” he admitted, looking at his feet.

They both started laughing.

“Fine,” he said, give me the hamster.”

Snowball sat on his palm and stared at him.  “He’s very conflicted,” he said.

“The hamster said your conflicted.”

“The hamster is right,” said James.

“He doesn’t have to worry,” said Snowball.  “The hero doesn’t have to make plans, the hero simply reacts to circumstances.  All he has to do is be there.”

“Really?” said James.  “That’s what Snowball said?”

“Yes.”

“Okay.  I feel better.”  James kissed the hamster and handed him back to Lilly. “Then I guess I’ll do whatever it is that I’m supposed to do at the right time.”

“I guess you will,” agreed Lilly.  “Do you want me to get Heather for you?”

“Oh, great goats, no.  One battle at a time.”

“Goats?”

“I read a book when I was a kid.  It had goats in it, so I started saying that.  I guess it just popped out,” he said smiling.  “So, are we good?”

“We are,” she said.  “I’ll be there with you no matter what.”

“Thanks and about Heather.”

“Oh, please.  Take her will you.  I’d be so happy if you did.”

“You sure?”

“Absolutely.  You have my blessing.”

He smiled.  “She’s so terrible.”

“I know.”

“Do you think I’m insane?”

“Without a doubt,” said Lilly.  “But love doesn’t care about that.”

“Do you think the people will know there’s a battle going on?”

“I think they know one is happening right now.  They can see it and they’re already dying.”

“I mean will they be able to see the outsiders, or aliens?”

“I don’t know.  I doubt it,” said Lilly.

“I don’t think so either.  I mean how would that go down?”

“Look, all we can do is guess.  We can ask Jerry.  He’s our best source of information,” she said.

“He’s currently our only source.”

“Let’s go,” she said, getting to her feet.  “You can say good by to my sister, if you like.  I’ll meet you out in front.”

“Funny,” he said, frowning at her.  “But, okay.”

Lilly tried to control her giggles and failed miserable.

“Oh, be quiet,” he snickered. “Worse things could happen and they probably will.”

“Worse things than Heather?” she chuckled.  “I seriously doubt that.”

“I’ll meet you out in front”

 

Annie…Short story…19

“You’re learning fast,” said Clark.  “You’re quick and you have perfect balance.”

“Thanks,” said Annie, gratefully.  “You’re a good teacher.”

“You can call your sword now and that’s important but if things get bad, just make the angels disappear.  You’re still new at this and you need to build up your practice hours so that you can think faster than the angel you’re fighting.  The only way to do that is to practice…a lot.  Fighting has to be second nature.  You don’t think about what you’re doing, your body just knows what to do.  Do you understand?”

“I do and I can see that I have a long way to go.  Thank you for practicing with me.”

“As long as you remember that I’m not really trying to kill you. The angels you’ll be fighting won’t stop until you’re dead and they will use any moment that you’re off guard to take advantage of you.”

Annie called her sword, threw it across the room as hard as she could and watched it slice through the practice dummy and lodge deep into the wall.

“Nice,” said Clark, laughing.  “When did you learn to do THAT?”

Annie shrugged.  “I just thought I’d try it.”

“Meow.”

“I have to go,” said Annie, racing up the stairs, through the kitchen, out the back door and down the fire escape.  “STOP WHERE YOU ARE!” she shouted.  “Those are my cats you’re trying to catch.”

“They’re feral and it’s our job to get them off the streets,”  said a mean looking man in a brown uniform.

“They aren’t feral.  I said they were MINE.  Is there something wrong with your hearing?”

“No, I can hear you.  I’m so sorry.  It won’t happen again,” stuttered the man, dropping the noose.

“You have a nice day,” said the person who was climbing back into the driver’s seat.  We won’t come  here again, okay?  Just forget you saw us,” he said, as the van took off down the alley.

“Annie,” said Lucifer, from the top of the fire escape.  “Put your wings away, please.”

“What?  My wings?  They aren’t…” she said, looking over her shoulder.  “Oh, sorry.  I didn’t know.”

“No one will believe them, if they tell anyone what they saw, but you have to be more careful.”

“That’s never happened before,” she said, stubbornly.  “I didn’t do it on purpose, they were scaring my cats.”

“You’ll be eighteen tomorrow.  I think you’ll notice a lot of new things happening.  Come up and have some cake.  Tinsel will be here shortly.”

Annie tamped down her anger, took a deep breath, and turned toward the cats.  “Minnow told me you were in trouble.  If anyone tries to catch you, you have to run or hide and if I don’t sense that something’s wrong, send someone to get me.”

“Meow.”

“Yes,” she sighed.  “I know that’s what you did.  I’m sorry.  It’s just that I love all of you so much.  A minute later she was buried in cats.  They slid over her, mewing and purring and just rubbing against her.  Their heartbeats in sync, made Annie feel as if she were flying.  “Maybe you are the ones taking care of me and not the other way around,” she laughed.

“Annie?” called Clark.  “Tinsel’s here.”

“Come on,” said Annie, trying to stand up.  “Come up with me.”

The cats raced up the fire escaped and poured into the house.  Some walked on the banister and others jumped through the kitchen window.

“Ah,” said Lucifer.  “I see you’ve invited guests.”

“I love them.”

“That’s good enough for me,” he said smiling.  “Please, my furry friends,  make yourselves at home.”

“I’m a cat person,” said Tinsel.  “Nice to meet you.  I mean dogs are great, it’s just that they aren’t cats.”

“You’re the cutest person I’ve ever seen,” said Annie, staring her.

“Oh, sorry,” said Tinsel.  “It’s the glamour.  There, now you can see me for who I am.”

“There’s no change,” said Annie.

“There should be,” mumbled Tinsel, looking at her arms.  “I’m part fairy, so I can look a lot of different ways.”

“Are you always adorable?” asked Annie, “Because you are pretty much perfect.”

“Let’s talk tattoos, shall we?”

“Sure,” said Annie.

“Definitely,” said Clark.

“Cluck,” said Adeline.

“No, I told you that chickens can’t get tattooed,” whispered Annie.

The bird held up her leg.

“No, not even on your leg.”

“Cluck?”

“No.”

An hour later the design was finished.  It was a magical twisting that would incorporate the cat and the dragon in a way that would keep Annie and Clark connected.  They both loved it and couldn’t wait to have it on their skin.

“I think you should put it on your forearm,” said Tinsel, ‘picking up each of their arms. “Yes, definitely.  The forearm.  And how about you Lucifer?  Do you want to make it a triple play?”

“No, but I appreciate the offer,” he said, bowing a little.

“Why not?” asked Annie.

“Because it would be dangerous for both of you if you always knew where I was.”

“But what if we get into trouble?”  asked Annie.

“You have each other.”

“Okay,” said Clark.

“Okay,” said Annie.  “But don’t complain if you need help but we can’t FIND you.”

“You have my word,” said Lucifer, trying desperately not to laugh out loud.

“Tomorrow at my shop.  Seven minutes past seven,” said Tinsel. “An auspicious time for both of you,” she added.  “I can draw on the hen’s leg with a marker, if you like.”

“Cluck,” said Adeline moving closer to her.

“I’ll hold her,” said Annie, picking up the bird.

“Stay still,” said Tinsel, drawing a tiny heart with stars around it on Adeline’s skinny leg.
“There,” said Tinsel.  “Finished.”

Once on the floor the hen strutted back and forth, stopping only to look down at her own leg, which was almost impossible since she was a rather large bird in every way imaginable.

“Cake?” asked Clark.

“I would love some,” said Tinsel.

After everyone had two pieces of cake, with ice cream and sprinkles, Tinsel left.

“What’s happening to me?” asked Annie.  “I’m angry all of a sudden.  I wanted to hurt those men.  Really hurt them.  No one goes after cats while I’m in town.”

“I’ve been feeling different as well,” said Clark, softly.  “I want to fight.  I want to fly and I’m worried about things too.”

“It’s just your eighteenth birthdays,” said Lucifer.  “Those things will only last for a couple of days and then you’ll…even out,  You’ll be different but you won’t notice huge emotional swings and when your angry, hopefully your wings will stay behind you.”

“Annie threw her sword through the fighting dummy and into the wall,” said Clark.  “She’s very strong.”

“You did what?” asked Lucifer.  “Show me.”

So Annie did.  Three times.  Each time, the sword went deeper into the wall.

 

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