Cymodoce (Part 3)

Cymodoce seems to be one of my best loved stories. EU actress Sabine Rossbach performed a reading of it and talks about it often (see Sabine Rossbach’s Happy Hour – 14 May 2020 Interview (wherein she waxes wonderfully about “Empty Sky”) for an example), parAbnormal published it in June 2019, there’s an ebook version and it appears in Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires.

By the way, a prominent Brit-based publisher and I have entered contract negotiations for Tales. It may not be self-published much longer. I’d suggest getting a copy now. Big changes are in the works, it seems.

 
I’ve broken the story into three parts starting with Cymodoce (Part 1) and continuing with Cymodoce (Part 2).

Creator and above level members can download the entire Tales PDF version here


Cymodoce (Part 3)

“See, everything’s fine,” said Mrs. D’Angelo.

“Cymmi mustn’t go swimming,” Jenny said and tapped Cymmi to get her attention. /NO /SWIM//UNDERSTAND/?// Cymmi turned away and pouted, her eyes on the ocean not far away. Jenny tickled her gently until Cymmi silently laughed and looked at her again. /CYMMI /NO /SWIM /PROMISE/?//

Cymmi nodded. /NO /SWIM /PROMISE//

Jenny smiled. She left the children in the D’Angelo’s care and left to walk through the village.

She walked for a few hours. Small pleasure craft and the larger lobster and fishing boats filled the Sound. The air was heavy with the mix of salt and diesel. Each wave brought the shrieks of water skiers and bluetooth boxes played too loud. She heard seagulls fighting for scraps and following the trawlers. Far beneath the gulls and music and vacationers she could hear and feel the grunting, steady engines of the trawlers laying their miles of netting or scooping lobster buoys from the sea.

She saw three small children, she guessed them to be two, three, and four — boy, girl, boy — playing dangerously close to the edge of the pier. As she approached she noticed the soiled, tattered clothing and dirty, shoeless feet and matted hair. They were sharing a can of coke and a package of twinkies. A seagull, almost the size of the smallest child, started to get bold and Jenny hurried before it hurt one of the children.

Suddenly a man appeared from one of the nearer boats and yelled. The seagull took flight and the children flinched. The man’s shoulders were hunched forward with the weight of his gut, but Jenny could tell the muscles were still strong in his arms and chest.

He looked up at her and quickly away. Jenny’s hand covered her mouth, but she didn’t know if her gasp was from stifled laughter or shock.

It was Anthony. A very different Anthony than she remembered from her other visits, certainly not the Anthony who took her to the island.

Anthony hurried his children below deck. Jenny laughed and continued her walk.

Further up the coast she became aware there were fewer boats on the Sound. Instinctively she looked up and realized the sky had darkened. It took another hour to get back to the D’Angelo’s.

Mr. D’Angelo opened the door to her. “The radio says there’s going to be a storm. There’re small craft advisories.”

Mrs. D’Angelo came downstairs. “The children had a snack of cookies and milk. They’re asleep in the guest room. My, do they talk! Their little hands like tiny butterflies, they move so fast. They’re beautiful children, Jenny. I got to love them.” She looked out the window. “You’re going to stay with us until the storm passes, Jenny. You’re not going to take those darling children out in this.”

“Of course she’s not,” said Mr. D’Angelo, offered in Jenny’s behalf. “She going to stay right here, you silly old woman.”

Jenny laughed.

The weather reports were right. There was a storm. A fierce storm. A typical coastal storm, quickly in and quickly out. They could see the crests of the waves from the store. The wind and rain slammed down the street. The lights along the coast went out. Jenny and the D’Angelo’s sat down and had some tea heated on a Coleman stove. Jenny picked up a book. They all turned when a tiny foot stamped.


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Character is… (Part 2.5) – Gestures and Mannerisms are…

This is the sixth in an ongoing series of StoryCrafting/StoryTelling posts I’m publishing for my own benefit; explaining something helps me determine if I’ve truly learned it or am simply parroting what others have offered. I learn my weak spots, what I need to study, et cetera.

Previous offerings include:

Cymodoce (Part 2)

Cymodoce seems to be one of my best loved stories. EU actress Sabine Rossbach performed a reading of it and talks about it often (see Sabine Rossbach’s Happy Hour – 14 May 2020 Interview (wherein she waxes wonderfully about “Empty Sky”) for an example), parAbnormal published it in June 2019, there’s an ebook version and it appears in Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires.

By the way, a prominent Brit-based publisher and I have entered contract negotiations for Tales. It may not be self-published much longer. I’d suggest getting a copy now. Big changes are in the works, it seems.

 
I’ve broken the story into three parts starting with Cymodoce (Part 1).

Creator and above level members can download the entire Tales PDF version here


Cymodoce (Part 2)

Jenny returned to the cottage to finish her last book. She had two hundred pages to go. That would finish the day. Tomorrow, she would close up the cottage and head back to New York, back to the silent security of teaching Drama to the Deaf.

The sun was strong and Jenny realized she hadn’t even bothered to get a tan so she put on a baggy pair of shorts, a bathing top, sunglasses, a wide brimmed hat, shoved an apple and penknife in her pocket, grabbed her book and wheeled a beach lounger outside. With one hundred pages left, she heard something. It sounded like the clacking of lobster buoys adrift in the shallows. Sounds didn’t make her nervous, but she knew every sound the cottage, the island and the ocean could make. This wasn’t one of them. Either someone was playing a joke or someone was hurt. She wasn’t sure if the locals could be that immature, but she wouldn’t put it past them. Twenty-five pages later she heard it again.

The sound came off and on with the wind. Unsure what it was, she investigated.

It stopped as she neared the dock.

“Hello?”

There was nothing there. No signs of any craft except Jenny’s own securely moored boat. She started back up the path and it started again.

There was a man lying among the rocks on the shore.

She walked towards him. “Are you all right?”

His naked body was cut and bruised in several places. Parts of a nylon fishing net cut into his flesh. The wounds had festered. His legs were bound in various lines. He rolled onto his stomach as she neared. His back was blistered from the sun.

“My God, what happened to you?”


Greetings! I’m your friendly, neighborhood Threshold Guardian. This is a protected post and requires either General Membership (free) or a Subscription (various levels). Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. All posts are free to all members save certain posts in the My Work category. Enjoy!

Cymodoce (Part 1)

Cymodoce seems to be one of my best loved stories. EU actress Sabine Rossbach performed a reading of it and talks about it often (see Sabine Rossbach’s Happy Hour – 14 May 2020 Interview (wherein she waxes wonderfully about “Empty Sky”) for an example), parAbnormal published it in June 2019, there’s an ebook version and it appears in Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires.

By the way, a prominent Brit-based publisher and I have entered contract negotiations for Tales. It may not be self-published much longer. I’d suggest getting a copy now. Big changes are in the works, it seems.

 
I’ve broken the story into three parts starting with this post.

Creator and above level members can download the entire Tales PDF version here


Cymodoce (Part 1)

Jenny silently guided the rowboat to the dock, all the while keeping one eye on her three-year-old twins, Davy and Cymmi, sitting in front of her. When the boat was next to the mooring Jenny grabbed a line, pulled the boat to the dock and tied it. It was the first time she’d been to the island since the twins were born. Her parents, who died within a week of each other the previous fall, left her the dock, the boat, the cabin, the two acres of land, and only property taxes and upkeep to concern her.

Davy fidgeted. “Mommy, I’m hungry. Can we eat now?” She put a finger to her lips and Davy pouted. Cymmi was leaning over the side of the boat, splashing her hands in the water. She paused, looked out over the waves, then splashed harder.

Jenny moored the boat, lifted a lunch basket and helped the children onto the dock. “Mom,” Davy whined, “I’m hungry.”

“We’ll go up to the cabin and eat. Okay, Davy?” They started up the narrow path.

“Mom, Cymmi’s still by the water.”

Jenny looked up. Cymmi was in up to her ankles. Jenny dropped the lunch basket, ran back and lifted Cymmi from the water. Her feet glistened. Cymmi kept looking at the waves as Jenny sat her by the lunch basket, took out a container of fresh water and poured it over Cymmi’s feet. The tiny, silvery marks began to fade and Jenny signed /COME /EAT /NOW /PLAY /LATER /OKAY/?// She took Cymmi’s hand and gently pulled her along.

Much later, when Jenny had put the children to bed, she walked down the path and sat on the dock. She took off her sandals and swished her feet in the ocean. Across the Sound she could see the lights of the Maine coast. The island had always been a quiet place. Even in the heat of the tourist season, when Route 1, heard if not seen across the Sound, was a tangle of campers, buses, and hitchhikers, the island was left to the three New York families who owned it and had cabins there.

The sounds of summer came across the water. She tried to match the sounds with the lights. Fuzzy rock music came from Beniroo’s, an old icehouse turned bar and nightclub. When Beniroo’s music paused she could hear a calliope and, intermittently, people giddily screaming. That would be Funland. She could see the Ferris wheel spinning and the roller coaster trestle climbing into the sky. Search lights swept back and forth, sweeping the ocean mists inland and then back out to sea. To the north she could pick out the tinny guitar and muffled bass of The Word’s tent meeting, preaching God’s message to the summer sinners.

Something tickled her foot and she jerked it from the water. Soon the tide would turn and go out. Fundy had powerful tides, aided this night by the moon overhead. There was a splash out by the rocks. Something bobbed briefly about forty feet from her. She heard another splash, saw a rippling approach her through the waves. /HELLO/?//

“Mommy?” Davy’s voice pulled her back to dry land.

There was a slight almost soundless splash in the water.

Jenny’s heart pounded. She fumbled getting up. “Yes, Davy?”

He walked over to her. “Who’re you talking to?”

She smiled and ruffled his hair. “Just the fishes. I told them we came back this summer. Now, what are you doing out of bed?”

“I couldn’t sleep.”

She lifted him up so he could ride her hip as she walked. He wrapped his arms around her neck and cradled his head in her shoulder. “Come on, little man, you can sleep with me tonight.” Davy’s arms hung limp by his sides before they got back to the cabin.

She put Davy in her own bed and checked Cymmi before returning to the kitchen. There she made herself a cup of coffee and, from a window, watched the coast lights go out, one by one.

The next day they cleaned the cabin. Jenny and Cymmi doing most of the work. Davy would sweep, watch them, see something outside, go investigate, come back a few minutes later, sweep some more, and watch them again, repeating the pattern over and over.

Jenny, moving the broom in careful strokes, swept up memories along with the dust bunnies. Twelve years earlier, too young and too protected to know different, she’d come to the island with Anthony DiGracio. They were what, she wondered, sixteen then?

She remembered that at sixteen, the skinny, olive-skinned fisherman’s son had fleshed out into a handsome man: his dark curly hair heavy on his head, now darkening his chest and stomach, his blue eyes smiling under long lashes.

Jenny walked through the town with her parents and their friends for almost three hours that day. Not once did the conversation waver from stocks, clients, or banks, all of which bored Jenny to death. As Jenny’s people walked off, Anthony tapped her arm. “Wanna go out to the island?”

They went in Anthony’s skiff. He rowed with his shirt off, his muscles knotting and unknotting rhythmically under his skin.

They closed the cabin door and, before she knew it, he was up against her, his sweat and teenage cologne a miasma around her, his hands gentle but searching.

They were on the bed and her jersey was off when she heard something. She was about to ask Anthony if he heard anything when the door opened.

Daddy stood there.


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Canis Major

You’re tired of being alone and afraid and once, just once, you want to hold someone and not be afraid of their fear.

Canis Major originally appeared in the April 1996 Tomorrow Magazine appears in my Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires anthology. You can also read the separate ebook singlet at Canis Major: A Tale Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires.

The story is a simple one. Imagine you’re a WereMan, human when the moon is full, a beast when not, and your father died before explaining your gift to you. Your fully human mother did the best she could but couldn’t really understand your needs.
Now you’re tired of being alone and afraid and once, just once, you want to hold someone and not be afraid of their fear.

The song lyrics in Canis Major are used courtesy of John Pousette-Dart and Debbie Rose, from The Pousette-Dart Band’s “Next to You.”

Creator and above level members can download the Tales PDF version here


Canis Major

Iggie dropped from the tree onto the fawn, his weight breaking its two hind legs. It tried to run anyway but its forelegs only clawed up the moist, dark forest floor, clouding Iggie’s thoughts as the rich earth aroma wafted into him. Iggie didn’t want the animal to suffer and bit into its throat, tearing out esophagus, jugular and various muscles. Still the fawn tried to escape. Iggie grew nauseous by the mix of his needs and the fawn’s attempts to break free. This wasn’t what he wanted. His father had told and taught him to make his kills quick and clean, to spare creatures any pain. Iggie curled one forepaw into a fist and punched through the fawn’s ribs, crushing the heart. The fawn stopped moving and Iggie, gazing up at the dark, star filled sky, let the blood trickle down his muzzle, dribble into his nostrils, and cover his fur from flews to belly as he dined.

***

TALL, HANDSOME, good build, good humor, able to stand on a rocking ship with my hands at my sides. Brown hair, brown eyes, black beard, white skin. Have been mistaken for a brown bear when I bathe in mountain streams, well educated (past 6th grade), still have all my teeth but not all my marbles. Looking for a well-rounded, buxom woman. Buxom men need not respond. Applicants should know by this that brains are more important than brawn. Dinners, dancing, demitasse, and dramamine. Send resume and salary history.

The ad sat on Iggie’s desk for two months. The first month he’d written it by hand and crossed out several portions. The second month he’d typed it into his computer, made several more edits, and returned to the forest.

He stared at the screen for some twenty minutes this time, ran the spelling checker over it four times, read the ad backwards to check for additional misspellings, and printed it out.

He lifted the paper in his hand, his eyes examining the grain of the page as his fingers felt the texture. A mirror on the wall next to his desk echoed his movements. All the walls in his house had mirrors: mirrors framed in gold, mirrors framed in window panes, hand-held mirrors, mirrors simple and ornate; every room had at least one. He gazed into this one, opened his eyes wide and stared into them. Large, brown eyes stared back. Eyes a little too large, a little too far apart, with pupils a little too large. He rocked back and his focus changed to his nose, too thin on top with nostrils too wide on the bottom. He smiled, his face growing light and his lips parting to show strong, even, white teeth. He abruptly opened his mouth until it became a mucus laden cavern in the mirror, leaned closer, and inspected his teeth, one by one, finally running his tongue over them like a barber testing a razor’s edge, and closing his mouth. Next he studied his narrow, dark-skinned, clean-shaven face, the thick brown-black hairs framing his high forehead and peering out from his open collared shirt.

He checked the calendar beside the mirror. A red line cut through most of the month save the current week plus a day on either side.

“Today is Friday,” he told his empty house. “I could submit the ad online but online readers want things too quickly.” Iggie wanted a woman who still read print. “Print readers still take their time.”

He flipped months on the calendar. “It’ll be a month before this even sees print. Another month or two before any responses arrive. March, April, May. Maybe a first date in June? It would nice to have someone during the cold months.” He shuddered with the thought. Someone to hold him? Someone to warm him?

New life burst through old snow outside his window. He glanced down the his hallways and sighed.

He folded the ad into thirds, included a check to cover its cost, sealed the envelope and walked the several miles down the mountain into town.


Greetings! I’m your friendly, neighborhood Threshold Guardian. This is a protected post and requires either General Membership (free) or a Subscription (various levels). Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. All posts are free to all members save certain posts in the My Work category. Enjoy!