The Doggess of Shady Moon Inn

Stories evolve, here is actually a story I am writing that was inspired by this old work of mine. But obviously it is very different. Now I am not sure what it is. In my mind it started off as a re-telling of goblin market. But I don’t know where the goblins went. Stories take up lives of their own.

girl, clouds, and white image

When the white woman first came, Liddy and Netsuke couldn’t understand a word that she was saying. She wore what appeared to be an old nurse uniform and spoke in a language that was all hissing and snapping, drawing her lips back and forth in tidal waves across her perfect white teeth.

The woman’s lips were the only thing about her that were not white. Instead, they were a soft pink, like the twin pedals of a rose. If it were not for those lips, Liddy and Netsuke might’ve thought the woman was a ghost. But they had seen ghosts at the inn, and not all ghosts where white. There were the red bloody ghosts, and the angry black ghosts, and then there were the nothing-coloured ones  you could walk through like a cloud of moths.

After a few moments of silence from Liddy and Netsuke, the white woman sighed, and the girls’ could each feel her in their minds, plucking something like one plucks the grapes off a vine.

A growl formed in the back of Netsuke’s throat. I don’t like that. I don’t like that one bit.

At the sight of the knife-tip edges of Netsuke ’s sharp teeth, the woman stopped her mind-spying and sighed once more.

“So you do not speak the common tongue then?”

Those were the first comprehensible words the girls heard from the woman who called herself Cedar Winterhouse.  Her words sounded curly and puffy, like cotton candy, and this was how the sisters knew the woman was a witch.

Witches always tried to enchant human children with their words. Though this witch should have known better. They were barely children any longer, Netsuke more than Liddy. But besides that, neither of them was human.

“Hello children, darling children! I am but a lone and weary traveller of the land, in search of the famous Shady Moon Inn. Would you lovely sweet girls be so kind as to direct my way. I hear that the innkeeper is nothing but charm. I so badly wish to meet her on this morning.”

Netsuke and Liddy exchanged doubtful looks. How had this witch even gotten so close to the property? It took a special sort of person to be able to reach the inn. And besides that, everyone knew that Dogma Dagon, the inn-keeper — their mother, would not be awake this morning. She was nocturnal.

“Our mother is asleep, but you can see her this evening. For now, my sister and I can check in your bags” Netsuke said staring at the witch with her large vulpine eyes. By nature, she was nocturnal too. But she’d been waking with the sun, with Leddia, since the time her sister was a hatchling.

Netsuke took her younger sister by the hand to stop her trembling. Two thoughts crossed her mind as she did so. Annoyance first: of course, Liddy was trembling. Liddy who was frightened of everything, Liddy who had the startled eyes of a wild bird. Then guilt at the annoyance.

Liddy was the younger one. And she was smaller. Netsuke was the one with claws. She could be brave enough for them both.

 

I am not going anywhere near this woman or her bags. Keep her in the woods, that is where all witches belong.” Liddy whispered to Netsuke as they trailed behind the witch.

But both girls knew, as much as they wanted to, they couldn’t keep the woman in the woods. Anyone who knew the Shady Moon Inn by name was its guest. Besides, strange clientele was not uncommon. Last year the Manticore arrived. And a few years back, when Netsuke was still a pup, there had been a Unicorn, who had adored Netsuke’s sister because Liddy was a holy innocent.

“Sweet girls, the walk is taxing, I hope you do not mind if I summon my assistant” said the witch Cedar Winterhouse in her sing-song voice.

The girls stepped back when the witch pulled something from her pocket. But it was only a hand bell, small and white, like the rest of her. On the bells ring, a pair of disembodied hands appeared out of nowhere, pushing a bellhop cart overloaded with suitcases.

“Why so many suitcases? What’s in them?” Chirped Liddy.

The witch laughed and twirled her white shirts about her. Her face was the colour of bone, of the lightning blasted down by an angry god. “Sweet girls I intend to be staying for a while.”

 

***

Their mother was awake when the girls arrived with the witch. Although her paws were folded serenely over a steaming tea pot, her fur was unkempt and her eyes looked tired.

“Why aren’t you asleep mama?” Liddy asked as she juggled the suitcases handed to her by the witches “assistant”.

“I could smell her for miles,” their mother growled .

Cedar Winterhouse pinched the sides of her skirt in a slight curtsey. In the atmosphere of the Shady Moon Inn, her perfectly starched dress looked like a costume, and she looked like a character from a play.

Not that the inn wasn’t clean, because it was. But unlike Cerdar Winterhouse, none of the inn was uniform or put together. Instead it was an amalgamation of furniture and styles. A Frankenstein of parts.   Some sections of the inn were scorching hot, with old sand crusted into the carpet. As if they belonged underneath the red desert sun. But in some sections of the inn you could see your frozen breath and icicles would form on your eyelashes.

From the outside, the inn appeared to be much smaller than it was. Just a modest Queen Ann style house with a railed porch and lace trimmed windows. But on the inside the inn was a riddle. Somehow the building was several stories high, but still, it never seemed to have more than one flight of stairs.

Some doors would lead you into what looked like entirely different buildings. On one side there could be a hallway of wood and stone, and the other side could contain lush carpets with walls covered in rubies.

Several doors lead you to kitchens that looked like the one they all sat in right now, the girls their mother and Cedar Winterhouse. Fox-girl, bird-girl, dog-woman, and witch. There were several doors that lead to dead ends or open windows. And there were a handful of doors that could not be opened at all.

Really, the inn was large, too large to be called an “inn” but too eclectic to be called anything grand, like a palace.

“This inn is my body” Their mother used to say to them when they were children. “And it is yours too. Keep it kind, keep it clean, keep it humble”. As if they were not humble enough.

When they were children Netsuke and Liddy each had the chore of cleaning a different room each day, although the inn was perfectly capable of cleaning itself.

Netsuke cut corners. She swept the dust into a pile underneath the bed, she pulled the top blanket over the lumps of the bottom ones. She only polished the fronts of the armoires.

Liddy was maddeningly scrupulous. She scrubbed each floor-tile until the sun went down and swept the fireplaces until her feathers were stiff with soot.

“Stop being an angel. Stop making yourself Cinderella when you don’t have to.”

“Cinderella had a prince, stop making yourself the ugly lazy step sister”

And then they would fight, in the vicious way that children did. But Netusuke would always win. She was the one with the claws .

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The Living Kathy

halsey, art, and ghost image

an excerpt of the story I just started writing. A ghost story! (spppookyyy!) not really.I’m not sure what it’s about, but maybe you see the tiny reference to Wuthering Heights?

When Kathy was a little girl, her mothers ghost had too been a little girl, because no one knows the form that death takes. The ghost of Kathy’s mother was the one who summersaulted over the folded out laundry, the one who stomped on the tails of the cats, and who cut the curtains up into streamers.

In life, Kathy’s mother had also been called Kathy, so when au pair Uta clacked into the living room and said “heavens, what do you think you are doing Kathy!” both Kathy’s- the ghost and the girl- turned around.

“None of your stinking business, witch” the ghost of Kathy’s mother said .

But au pair Uta couldn’t hear ghost-speak, and the living Kathy would never repeat anything like that. The living Kathy wasn’t a rude little girl. The living Kathy even tried not to judge her mother’s ghost too harshly. When the ghost-mother flew into rages and flung herself on the bed, Kathy would sit beside her, as if she was the mother comforting a child. Death does strange things to people.

When Kathy was older, she wondered if only she’d had a little of her ghost-mothers spite, then she could have chased the spirit out of the doll-house or bullied the spectre into obedience. Maybe then she might not have been the one who was blamed. For soiling the church clothes, for making Marigold hiss, for cutting the curtains up into streamers.

When she looked at the family portraits, Kathy could never reconcile the beautiful, dour, auburn haired woman she saw with the wild willed monster, the wicked little soul that looked exactly like herself- save for that hair. Rosy, fiery. Like hell. Like embers.

The ghost would fly into an especially terrible rage whenever she saw father. Which was not often, thank goodness, or there would be no more good china to fling from the cabinets. She would point at him, and then screech at Kathy, “he killed me, there he is, he killed me. Now what are you going to do about it.”

And Kathy would pat her ghost mother’s head and say “no, he didn’t, you killed yourself, now please sit back in the doll house. Stop yelling.” She was eight. She was old enough to know these things.

 

Aboard the Antigone

An excerpt of my newest short story aboard the Antigone. ( I say newest like its complete, but I actually just started it). This is the first story I’ve written that is about aliens. Surprising since I love aliens! 

edit: Totally forgot! I have written another story about aliens. When People Lived on Neptune

alien, rainbow, and space image

The ship was called the Antigone, should probably mention that shouldn’t I. Though everybody’s is still confused as to what aliens would know bout Greek tragedy.

Anyway, if I’m gonna to tell you this story (and the only reason I’m gonna is cuz you keep askin) I ain’t gonna start with the aliens. The aliens is where it ends for most of us in Harthwright, now that half the town is in the loony bin.

Diamond and I met em first we did, along with Ms.Evrett and the tiny Mexican girl.

Yeah I know the whole town saw the aliens, saw em bubbling round in the sky in their mother o’ pearl, walnut shaped space ship. But here’s what, Diamond and I, and Ms.Everett, and Soledad- the tiny Mexican girl. We was on it. We was aboard the Antigone.

As you know, Diamond got pretty messed up by the whole thing. He hangs out with that group, sort of as their leader,  the ones that call themselves the Starswallower’s. You’ve seen em right? Of course you have! The kids who wear a lot of metal, pretty much anything they can find, wire hangers, hubcaps, paperclips, you name it.

They hang out at the rec center and write poetry about the universe. On the weekends they wear giant work boots, the kind that the steel-mill boys used to wear till they were put in the loonie bin too, and stomp down on the grass until they’ve made one giant circle.

Yeah, Diamond is pretty weird now. Coulda made something of his life, coulda played college ball. Coulda gotten outta here. I saw him last Wednesday and he handed me a book of poems and mumbled some philosophical mumbo jumbo. “Your too busy to see them stars child o’ venus child o’ mars” yeah somethin weird like that. Good lord.

But I guess Diamond is lucky compared to what happened to Ms.Everett and Soledad. Theys gone now. Theys gone with the Antigone.

alien, girl, and galaxy image

Wolves of the Evening (Excerpt)

art, black and white, and fanart image

(An excerpt of my latest short story, a sort-of retelling of Little Red Riding Hood)

Margaret Atwood — ‘All stories are about wolves. All worth repeating, that is. Anything else is sentimental drivel’

For the third time in two weeks Janet Greene woke up with sore legs. The flats of her feet were tender and when she stretched, her calf muscles cried out.

Briefly, she recalled something. A quick intake of mossy air. The sky, sharp as a tooth, dark as a dead crows wing. There was something warm and wet beneath her. There was something pale and round above her. The moon, like the eye of a hidden God.

“What has happened to me! Have I been running through the night?”

Janet bit away at what remained of her middle school graduation manicure. Claws, she had once said jokingly, as her best friend Fiona coldly surveyed a group of boys, deciding which of them to fuck. “Better run boys, Fifi is on the hunt”, said Briana with the curly hair and gap teeth, Janet and Fiona’s sort-of-friend. Her claws are out! Janet threw her head back.

A dark slippery pit settled into Janet’s stomach when she thought of Fiona and the rest of the girls from school. She hadn’t seen or heard from any of them in the two weeks she’d been at Gran’s.

The last time Janet had spent the summer at her grandmothers, she had been six and everything about the house seemed lacy and fancy and forbidden. Even then her grandmother had been so funny and old fashioned, her glasses were tethered to her face by a string of fake pearls, her tea was taken three times a day at dawn, at noon, at midnight.

She’s always had a thing about three’s. Thought Janet, although the only other example she could think of was the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The big three, Grandmother’s favorite three.

The last time Janet had spent the summer at her Gran’s, on the doorstep her mother had straightened her pig tails and said “You be a good girl now! If she asks, tell her we’ve been going to church. Remember that story about the boat and all the pretty animals, tell her that one?” And then Janet’s mother kissed her on the cheek and hopped into the car with her then-boyfriend to go on a medieval taste-testing tour of France.

This time, Janet had walked up to the house in solitude. She was alone in her exile, save for the stone lions that lined the path and the brass knocker that hung from the door. When she was a child there had been a miniature bird bath, decorated with clay wolves on the lawn. Janet wondered where the wolves had gone. Everything about the house seemed older and shabbier than she remembered.

Sitting in the car with bug-eye sunglasses on was Janet’s mother. Older and shabbier as well.

“Now, you’ve done it”, her mother had said as she sped down the rolling country roads, cigarette in one hand steering wheel in the other. All of the windows were up. The car smelled of expired bitterness.

Janet stayed silent.

Her mother shot her a hard stare though the opaque sunglasses. Like Janet was an insect. “Have I ever told you, having a child is the fastest way to break your own heart?”

Molly’s Dream

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“She is of both worlds, the old and the new.She is a princess, and in the place where the moonlight has touched her forehead, she can see the old path . Will you not listen? Can you not see?”

Allison’s Dream

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“It feels like I have been cold for one thousand years. But how can that be, I have only been alive for fifteen? Yet it feels like the thorn of the rose pierced my great mother’s back. When she cried out, her daughters were cursed to live inside of a frost flower. Their tears turning to icicles beneath them.”

Miranda in the Afterlife

Two trucks full of high schoolers one with 5 ,one with 7 ,start to play a game of chicken on senior skip day.

Miranda is with them .She is not the type of girl to skip on senior skip day.

But it is 32 degrees outside and so far this June its only been rain. And everyone was going. She never does anything fun. Even Tommy Rhyne said “hey why don’t you live a little Maranday,”

She likes the way he says her name. Tommy Rhyne. He’s the type of boy who could be in a cigarette commercial, he is from a ranching family- Tommy Rhyne- and he always smells like horses. He says her name, her name like it’s a song. Miranday .

Two trucks full of high schoolers one with 5 ,one with 7 ,start to play a game of chicken on senior skip day.

Miranda sits in the back. Not in the back were the seats are, in the trunk. She is leaning over it, and there is a flower in her hair.  She is smiling. It is the first time in her life that she feels eternal. And she thinks to herself “it is like sunshine in my veins, this feeling of being alive.”

Two trucks full of high schoolers.

The other truck is full of their classmates. 7 of them. 7 + 5. 12. Half of their graduating class is in those two trucks. Those two trucks playing chicken. It is a small town. Not even a town. Miranda’s cousin from the big city once pointed to a map and said there you are, “you are a dot,”

But Miranda does not feel like a dot. She feels like her life is about to begin and it will be like the movies. There is a flower in her hair and the boy she likes says her name like a song.

Two trucks full of high schoolers one with 5 ,one with 7 ,start to play a game of chicken on senior skip day. Both of them have every intent of quitting . Both of them turn right.

In death Miranda is wearing a flower. She does not remember if she likes flower. All she recalls is a strange moment where she felt the wind snapping against her teeth.

 

 

Classic Ore

 

Classic . Ore
Classic Orē/
adjective
  1.  
    having or showing a lack of common sense or judgment; absurd and foolish.
    “What was she thinking reminding the teacher to assign homework! Totally classic Ore.
noun

informal
  1. a foolish person (often used as a form of address).
    “Come on, you Classic Ore you”
    Alright. So if you don’t get the point. Sometimes I do things… silly things.These things are so silly and so me, that they have there own term. Classic Ore.
          I am the friend your afraid of telling secrets too… not because I’m untrustworthy, but because everyone can tell when I’m hiding something. I am the one who made math puns in class and then shared them, even though NOBODY ASKED. (What do you call a bathroom on an airplane, a high- pot- in- use?) I have been caught on a few different occasions eating pies on public transit and creepily staring at strangers by accident. I am extremely easy to shop for because the things I like are usually niched and brought up frequently by me (did someone say yellow writing journal or personalized stamp kit?)

Anyways, I have already shared a few classic Ore moments on this blog such as the time I ruined Valentines day ,or the time I proved I was really lame but this one takes the cake.

Lets talk about an uber classic Ore moment that happened not too long ago. The time I gave away condoms to a child.Yeah. I know that sounds sort of awful so lets start from the beginning of the story.

So my friend Eve, who is the real MVP, was volunteering with the UNICEF club on campus, and when she mentioned it to me I suddenly remembered that during clubs week (which is basically when a bunch of people wave clipboards in your face and tell you to join their cult club) I had signed up for UNICEF.

Being the classic Ore that I am, of course I forgot to attend every meeting of the semester, but with Eve’s prompting I decided to give club activities a try. So I decided to help with the valentines day fundraiser.

Really. I should just be banned from Valentines day, it isn’t like I haven’t messed up before. ( see the time I ruined Valentines day) but the fundraiser seemed like a lot of fun! Our job was simple, we were given a bag of candy grams and had to deliver them to specific rooms at specific times. Once in the classroom/ lecture hall/ wherever, we would call on the students who recieved candy grams and hand them over.

This was especially entertaining for two reasons, reason number one was because most of the candy grams were cute anonymous love confessions, reason number two was because there was a naughty and nice theme to the candy grams!

The “nice” themed candy grams came with a bunch of your typical valentines day candy and a cutesy message. The “naughty” candy grams contained not only candy but a few other risque items! (Insert maidenly blush here). The messages on these candy grams tended to be a lot less Taylor Swift lyrics and more Nicky Minaj lyrics if you catch my drift.

Anyways, Eve and I had a blast delivering candy grams, and everything went smoothly. The only road bump we hit was the fact that occasionally the student who had received a candy gram was not in class, or somehow the time and room number were missing from the candy gram label. When we finally got back to the UNICEF club room we asked the club executives what to do with these misfit candy grams, and to our delight we were allowed to keep (and eat) them!

Needless to say, I went home very very happy.

I remember sitting on my floor and just STUFFING MY FACE with all of the chocolate. it must have been a terrifying scene. Wrappers everywhere. My face smeared with residue sugar. My eyes wide and unashamed.

Things began to take a turn for the classic Ore when I opened one of my last candy gram bags and mixed into the candy were flavored condoms and lube. I stared blankly at the contents of the bag, remembering the “naughty” themed grams and then continued to STUFF MY FACE.

I’m going to admit, every valentines day of my life has been sort of uneventful, so this was a pretty average evening for me, my room was in a “don’t really care” state, I was in a “dont really care” state, and I had like five of my stuffed animals piled on my bed (yes I promise I am not five).

Their names are Bunny, Dolly, Benjamin-Fleance, Cubburt, and Munro.

Bunny is the oldest, I’ve had her since I was seven, and Munro is the newest, my friends and I went to build-a-bear (I promise I’m not five) and got matching teddies. Most people assume he’s named after Marilyn Monroe but he’s actually named after Alice Munro!

I can tell you more about the other stuffies later because the one I want to talk about is Dolly.

A girl in my class got my Dolly for secret Santa in grade 7 (she is a sheep… named after Dolly the sheep), and the coolest thing about Dolly is that she has a secret compartment in her back! In grade 8, when I wasn’t aloud to wear makeup, I would hide lipstick in Dolly! She was my partner in crime. Anyways back to the current scene. I am lying on the floor eating candy. Condoms are all over the place. In a few seconds my mom will enter my room and ask me how my day was!

When I heard my mom about to enter my room and realized there were flavored condoms and lube lying on the floor my head went “oh crap!” And my very first instinct was to hide them in Dolly’s compartment. My reaction is justified by the fact that in my Nigerian family having condoms lying all over the floor is definitely not a recommended situation.

When my mom left I breathed a sigh of relief and continued to eat my candy. I forgot about what I had hidden in Dolly’s back.

Flash forward about a month later and my hair dresser is downstairs braiding my sister hair. She has an extremely adorable but very very hyper four year old girl, and her daughter often accompanies her when she comes to our house.

Normally, whoever isn’t getting their hair done is charged with the task of keeping my hair dressers daughter entertained… and that task want to me. It was fun at first. We colored, we watched Dora, we played (well jammed keys) on my piano. And then I got sort of tired. Because I have so many stuffed animals and definitely don’t need them all I decided to let my hair dressers daughter play with Dolly. When she seemed to like Dolly, I let her keep Dolly. I imagined I was like Andy in Toy Story 3, all gracious and kind, giving my old toys a way.

It was only when they had just left that I realized what I had left hidden in Dolly’s secret compartment.

Woops. Classic Ore.

The Beginnings of A Story I Probably Wont Write

Road Maps

For the longest time we thought that Liz had eczema because of the way her skin started to slide off of her face like an orange peel. Her skin started so crawl. Like creally crawl. Like it was a beetle on its backside frantically scurrying away. And kids at school would say Your skin is starting to look like a leather hand bag.

And Liz would sort of frown and say I know.

It wasn’t until I took a look at Liz’s eczema in science class and said, It looks like the state of Iowa.

And Liz sort of frowned and said I know.

Every day Liz would come to science class and a new part of her face had peeled away to reveal skin smooth and leathery and geographic.

And I said to Liz one day. You know your turning into a map?

And Liz wouldn’t say anything. But her eyes would flicker and the apples of her cheeks, one of which was Connecticut, the other was New Mexico, would turn a soft red colour.