Characters · She

Blow your Trumpet!

Somewhere deep inside her she keeps it hidden.

Somewhere deep inside it strives to get out and blow her tune.

Why does she hide it, when it strikes such a powerful tune? Is she frightened, perhaps, of the noise it will make, of the feathers it may ruffle?

Yesterday she was reminded of the need to dig deep for courage, blow off the cobwebs to the door and unlock it, to let that trumpet out.

For how can she advise those she loves to blow theirs, to sing the melody of their worth, beauty and might if she keeps her own silent?

Our well-known bard, Shakespeare, said of Hermia,

“Though she be but little, she is fierce”, and this could be said of her.

That trumpet should sound the notes of her ferocity proudly, as she stands firm for those she loves.

That same trumpet should joyfully set her toes tapping and rising to reach even the shortest shelf, for she is indeed little – how wonderful that this has never been an inhibition!

She should sometimes set her trumpet close to her chest as she sings of other strengths and virtues, use her voice as counter-melody to that first, triumphant theme!

She sings of Kindness, for that is uppermost in her heart and mind. She wakes with Kindness at the ready, and seeks it in all her choices. She sees Kindness in others and thrills when she encounters it.

She thinks herself most often as stubborn, sometimes to the point of grouchy, maybe even unmoving… But on the rare days the trumpet sings, she recognises this as Perseverance. That which allows her to soldier on through the darkest days.

In the mirror, she sees a naive young girl set apart from most “normal” walks of life, lacking in experience and with no gravitas whatsoever! The music that surrounds her on the days the trumpet sings tells a different story.

She is a woman, a wife, a mother. She loves and cares fiercely, she listens and speaks kindly. She has learnt much from life, and seeks always to help those following a similar path. Gravitas may well be lacking, experience and maybe even a little wisdom are not. Three kind, caring and careful young people are testament to that.

Though she be but little, she is fierce…

She maybe should believe this a little more often, let that trumpet blow less rarely. Then, perhaps, she would believe that she is me.

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Abstract

Fear

There’s a fog monster lurking all around me. There’s a dark grey cloud wrapped right around my shoulders. There are gloves of cotton wool wound tight around my fingers, and a mask of felt pressed tight against my eyes.

It calls itself “Fatigue”, or “Distraction”. Some see it as “Depression”. It sits its heavy load on the tenderest places, as if it knows just where it will hurt most: eyes for seeing, lips for talking, ears for hearing and fingers for writing.

All the time it hides its true nature, for Light is its enemy. When we see it for what it is, we can resist it, fight it, overcome it. So for the longest time it lurks, shapeless and colourless but strong with power stolen from each of us.

It is Fear, plain and simple. Anxiety, worry, nerves. What will others think, it asks. What makes you think you can, it jeers. It saps our strength, our resolve, our very creativity. And as it drinks from that never-ending well, it grows in strength and sucks ever harder in its bid to destroy us.

Today I see you, Fear. And in spite of that fatigue, those many distractions, that feeling of oppression, I picked up my keyboard and opened this page. I wrote you down.

For me, for my little characters who have so patiently been waiting to be let out of my mind onto a page, but also for you. For any of you, of us, who are weighed down by Fear, I write today.

These are only a few small words, yet I entrust them with the promise of Tomorrow. These few words are, I hope, the first of many. The opening of a door.

Tomorrow, the battle with Fear will no doubt begin again. But Tonight, I shod a light on you, and you were Diminished for a while.

Angel-Imp · Conversations with You · Stories

Question…?

Life is busy, and both Dennis and Lily are chomping at the bit and hammering at the door in my brain to get out and tell their story! I eagerly await a little bit of time and space to dedicate to my keyboard and blank page, but in the meantime, let’s try a little bit of interaction!

You find yourself transported to the Beginning. It is beautiful, pleasant, there are hanging fruit and a clear, limpid stream with delicious water. However, you are about to come face to face with terrifying Imps…

Which would you rather face, the Furies, or Adramelech? Feel free to wander over here to check them out before your make your choice!

Angel-Imp · Stories

The Creation – part 5

It has been quite a while since we have gathered once again to hear the story of Dennis and Lily. I will give you a moment to remember our story so far, or make yet another cup of tea before settling in a hopefully comfortable, cushion-covered armchair or sofa.

Dennis, we heard last time, was one of the Better Angels in the Beginning. Yet he was unrecognised, for the angels as a group had rather forgotten their nature as a result of the altering effects of having won the First War against Evil.

This better angelic nature being paired with unfortunate looks and spectacular clumsiness, Dennis was isolated from his kind by dint of exclusion and choice. He spent his time alone, or surrounded by the imps he felt compelled to aid. This, of course, was equivalent to or worse than being alone because imps, due to their nature, taunted the poor unfortunate at every turn.

We agree, I think, that Imps had not come out of the War very favourably. They were defeated and given the choice of wandering the forests, swamps and deserts of this young planet or working in the Angels’ castle. Imps, as I have previously remarked upon, are lazy. This was a difficult choice and yet… Surviving Nature requires resourcefulness and constant hard work. In truth, jobs in a clean and cosy castle were a far easier option and so all bar one or two joined Population Castle.

Of the few imps who left to find their fortune elsewhere was Adramelech. Having been in charge of Lucifer’s exuberant and glamorous dress, he felt far too superior to do such things as sweep floors and dig dirt in the gardens. He strode away into the forest at the end of the War, swearing to raise a new order based on Beauty, Glamour and Glitter. Sadly, he was not followed, and within days was seen looking brow-beaten, his once glorious clothes now mere rags. His pride (for Imps have much pride) would never let him return, and it had been many centuries since he had last been seen.

The three Furies also left (in a huff, I might add). This did not surprise anyone. A trio of witches if ever there was one, these female Imps were always in a foul mood, be it day or night. I would love to tell you what became of them, but everyone was so relieved by their absence that any sign of their presence was studiously avoided.

In fact, the new life at the castle settled remarkably quickly. This was mostly due to the fact that the Imps’ quality of life improved dramatically in spite of having become essentially indentured servants. Life in a castle, with running water and central heating, with food always available was infinitely preferable to the nomadic existence that had preceded their defeat. Tents had been a luxury, but were rarely maintained enough to keep the weather out. Food was mostly foraged, and usually consisted of animal carcasses left behind by larger predators. Cooking was too much effort so you can imagine that any thought of flavour or pleasure related to food was non-existent. All in all, life at the castle was luxury.

Imps will be Imps, however, and contentment was not in their nature. Not a day went by without formal complaints being lodged with the Angels about the quality of accommodation, childcare, food, work hours, drug use (or its ban). The duty of managing these complaints was cycled regularly among the Angels as it was the most frustrating of all their tasks.

Food was often deliberately burned. Fires were left untended or chimneys were slyly stuffed with moss to ensure an Angel’s bedroom filled with smoke at bedtime. One particularly enterprising Imp had taken the time to harvest over one hundred slugs and spread them among the cabbage beds one Spring. He later explained that he did not like cabbage, but would not be drawn on what else everyone might eat if the harvest failed.

I would like to say that the Angels in charge of managing the Imps and ensuring that they did their work was one that was feared and dreaded by most of our angelic host, but that would not be true. I am afraid to say that most Angels had come to quite enjoy the sense of power and control they felt on performing such a duty. While using their angelic powers was strictly speaking forbidden, over time there had been a laxity shown by superiors and several Imps could frequently be seen with singed bottoms, or behaving in rather unnatural ways. One Angel in particular enjoyed using his ability to manipulate minds to have Imps walking on their hands for the duration of their shifts.

In summation, the Imps were Imps despite enjoying a better level of comfort and pleasure than at any time in their history. The Angels were holding on to some of their angelic qualities, but the inequalities inherent in life at the castle were having rather troubling effects on Angelic Goodness.

Change was afoot, and nowhere was it more obvious (if discrete and as yet unnoticed) than in the person of Lily. Because while the Angels were slowly being corrupted, Lily, an Imp, was discovering Empathy. And Empathy leads to Kindness… which is Everything as we have previously mentioned.

Lily was really rather pretty. In common with all Imps, her skin had a reddish tone, but her dark wavy hair complimented it very nicely. Her horns were small, two sweet stubby little things protruding gently from her hair, conveniently keeping the locks out of her face. She enjoyed keeping herself clean and fresh, and enjoyed sewing clothes in the spare time that each Imp was given. Those clothes were not flamboyant, but nor were they drab. She had more than a little flair for the dramatic and glamorous, and the outlet she had chosen was fashion. To that end, she often found herself being asked (well told) to make outfits for her fellow Imps, which she did without rancour. It made her smile to think that more and more of her designs were seeing the light of day, and she particularly liked matching style to personality. In her wildest dreams, she thought that the right clothes could make an Imp feel so good about themselves that they would stop being angry and frustrated and maybe say thank you, or even simply smile.

Lily’s tail was slightly shorter than average, but its slender nature paired with a spectacularly pointy tip. The arrow shape was exquisite and she had been the recipient of more jealous and spiteful comments than she could count or remember. In fact, Lily’s beauty and fashion sense incurred a great deal of jealousy and she most often found herself alone and without companionship.

Lily longed for a friend. She longed to share her dreams with someone who would reciprocate. She longed to share her life! But Imps did not have friends, nor did they share. Nor indeed did they have dreams, being creatures of the moment for whom instant gratification was the only kind. So while Lily longed for a friend, she had long given up on every finding one and was resigned to a lonely, if fairly pleasant, existence.

I’m sure you can see where this is going… an angel snubbed by his kind for being awkward and kind, and an imp spurned for her beauty and affinity for good. Never has a love story been so fore-ordained as that of Dennis and Lily in the Beginning. As yet, they had never met… the castle, you see, is rather larger than you might have thought.

I saw today...

Today I heard Autumn

Today I heard Autumn as I woke, his powerful breath moving through the leaves in the tree beside my bedroom.
Today I felt Autumn’s breath as I walked in the woods, strong and steady with the occasional extra puff of wilful wind.
Today I saw Autumn tentatively trying out her gowns of russet, yellow and brown in defiance of Summer’s overstayed welcome.
Today I smelled Autumn’s damp and earthy scent as I trod on a new mulch of fallen leaves.
But today was merely a glimpse.
Summer maintains his dominion over our little patch of Earth and not long into my walk, the warmth of his sun convinced me to shed my jumper.
Summer’s greenery continues to robe her every tree and bush, and today she lays claim to the ripening fruit that begins to abound.
At one moment, the sky is Summer’s blue, crowning her green and luscious dress with a diadem of light aquamarine, then in one swift and unexplained move, Autumn has overtaken with her headdress more resembling topaz. Darker and more mysterious, deeper and a little foreshadowing…
Today I heard Autumn, felt him, saw her.
Tonight, Summer reigned again, his warmth comforting and strong, her beauty all around.
Such is the wonder of the changing of the Times.

Angel-Imp · Stories

The Creation, part 4

Dennis… oh lovely Dennis the angel. I hope you are sitting comfortably once again, that you have a cup of tea around which to place your hands and let the warmth radiate into your whole being. Curl up on the sofa, feline and languid, and let us meet our unlikely hero.
I have to apologise, because I have been talking of angels, and I suspect you have already created an image in your mind of our Principal. No doubt you see him as tall, dressed in robes of white, with angels gently unfurling with each gentle breath. His chin is slightly chiselled, his hair a dark blond and flowing neatly just above that chin. No facial hair… that would simply be inelegant and frankly not angelic. He glows somehow, though no source of light is apparent, and often hovers just above the ground as though some greater force of Good is drawing him up towards a higher plan. Dennis is a gentle soul, whose lyre playing is sweet enough to lull the most fearsome beast to sleep. He must surely have knowledge of all the creatures and plants that surround him and know instinctively how best to protect and care for each of them. He is calm, yet firm; musical yet quiet; joyful without being rambunctious; affectionate yet somehow distant… He is, in fact, everything you think an angel should be. What else could he be? Here he is, clearly the protagonist in a story about the Creation, the Beginning… a hero!

I’m sorry.
Nope.

Dennis, I’m afraid yet proud to say, was a dork.

Oh lovely Dennis… He did wear robes of white, but somehow, they always managed to be stained before he had even got to breakfast. Whether a mud stain while he trod a seedling into place, or the red blush of a crushed berry picked up on the way and handed to a cheeky impling, something always conspired to have Dennis appear at the breakfast table as though he had tussled with a woolly mammoth. Not only that, but the robes never quite seemed to fit Dennis. While the other angels casually threw them over their heads, only to find that the fabric draped majestically over and past their wings and settled gently to the tops of their ankles, Dennis found himself in a dreadful muddle each and every day.

Depending on the day of the week, the robe seemed either too long (in which case he would trip over with every other step, twist himself as if enveloped in some gigantic sail and end up in a heap, usually in the middle of some stately gathering), or too short (oh the ignominy of a robe that falls short of one’s knobbly knees!).

Not only were the robes a problem, but Dennis had not been gifted by mother Nature (or the yet to show himself Almighty). He was short and stout. His hair was the kind of blond or brown that is neither one nor the other, and was the texture of a wet sheep’s fleece. When he shaved it short, a rather ovoid skull appeared which accentuated his pointy chin and bulbous nose… not even he thought that was a particularly good look. Within a week or so of shaving that hair, it had grown into a thick, dense felt that would break any comb that came within a foot of his head. It was, without a shadow of a doubt, a disaster. Any thought Dennis had of a lady angel running her fingers gently through his hair resulted in tears or laughter – not a good result if you are after a pleasant fantasy.

So Dennis had not been granted good looks in the genetic stakes, nor had he inherited the elegance and grace that had been his mother’s trademark. His parents, in fact, had gently or not so gently ignored him so gradually that nobody in the angelic realm had any idea who he was related to. Dennis, being kind, did not want to embarrass them and allowed them to move on with their lives without him. Kindness, however, is no panacea against emotional pain, and to know that one is not wanted by one’s parents is a hardship that he would wish upon no creature in any time.

In spite of these flaws… and I do insist that it was in spite of, and not as a result of them… Dennis was more angel than most of the population at the time we are speaking of. As I alluded to earlier, the angels had in no small way become corrupted by their treatment of the imps and their ensuing laziness. They seemed to have lost their work ethic, and their sense of purpose and in so doing, their very essence had been altered. But they were Angels, and so they, the imps and all of nature continued to see them as models of Goodness…

Dennis was different.

Dennis felt passionately a need to be kind and helpful and industrious. And Dennis has a really soft spot for the imps. He felt it most unfair that all imps were being punished for the actions of their forbears, and believed wholeheartedly that everyone was capable of redemption.

So whenever he saw an imp struggle under the burden of a laundry basket, he would step in to help. If a fire was left untended, Dennis jumped in to help. He loved nothing more than to tinker in the garden, helping plants grow. He became quite excited every time he entered a workshop, or saw the need for a door to be mended. He was often to be seen in the kitchen, chopping vegetables for the Head Imp Cook, or stirring a sauce while the Sauce Imp had a coffee (made, of course, by Dennis). In fact, as time went on, Dennis seemed to spend more and more time with the imps, and less with his own kind.

Dennis was a dork, less than good-looking and an appalling lyre player. In fact, during all the angelic choirs and orchestras, Dennis had been sent to the back and handed a triangle in the hope that even he could not make a mess of that. Unbelievably, he had. As he struck the triangle, something in the metal seemed to shift and not only was the beat he struck out of time, but it was also out of tune. Dennis was not particularly clever, nor did he command authority.

Dennis was a dork.

But Dennis was kind, gentle and compassionate. In fact, Dennis was more Angel than any one of the flock around him and this, dear reader, is why he is our Principal. This is why he is our Hero, for Kindness is pretty much the everything.

On a personal level, Kindness was to be pretty much the everything to Dennis, because it was to lead him to Lily and to a whole new Beginning…

Angel-Imp · Stories

The Creation… part 3

Angels living the life of Riley, Imps doing all the chores and generally ruing the day they fed their leader to the tyrannosaur. This is where we left our little troupe the other day. The lessons we learned through tradition, both oral and written, over aeons and eras, through time immemorial were the following:
Being good leads to great rewards, being bad leads to pain and suffering.
And we Humans went to town with this theme. We invented characters and built stories with happy endings for the “good guys” and never-ending misery for the “bad guys”. We went even further, casting a strong handsome man as the good guy, adding in a helpless maiden for tension and a weaselly or brutish lad as the bad guy. There might have been some wicked Queen occasionally – never a girl, this woman always tended towards more masculine attributes.

This later addition to the theme of fairy tales was never an issue in the Beginning. Gender was of little consequence to the angels and imps and roles were assigned based on ability with no thought as to whether the individual was female or male. So much so, indeed, that the mythology of angels has them as being sexless creatures. Others go so far as to deny them physical form at all.

You can see for yourself as you look around our vista that this is not true of the origin of angels. Whether as time passed, they evolved into some diaphanous and sexless form is not for us to say here. I can really only manage one TIME at once, so stay with me here in the Beginning while I introduce you to Dennis and Lily.

Yes! We have heroes!
I realise it has taken me until this third part of the narrative to introduce you to them, but the context is clearly important!

Dennis was an angel. He had lost count of his age several centuries previously, in no small part because calendars were yet to be invented, and the passage of time was rather irrelevant to a life we Humans would describe as Paradise. Nature took its course, evolution took its time, and the angels were simply happy to be a part of the whole thing. Much of their pastimes were intellectual in nature and had no environmental footprint. The rest (such as architecture and the building of an edifice like the castle) were embarked upon in a seamless collaboration with their natural environment. Indeed, the castle had taken a great deal of effort and time as all the stone had to be collected from far afield. As this great venture had occurred before the War, the angels had done all the work. While they had asked the imps for some help in return for a communal living space that would protect all from danger and weather, the imps had naturally declined. Not politely. There may well have been some rude gestures made, unspeakable insults hurled. Imps, I repeat, are really not very pleasant.

Dennis remembered those days fondly. He had enjoyed the challenge of planning, designing, building. He had enjoyed participating in running daily life for everyone. He had enjoyed going to bed at night so tired that no thoughts ran through his head. He had enjoyed the camaraderie that so often occurs when a group works together.
all that had fizzled out when the imps came to the castle.

All manual labour had been passed on to the imps. Cooking, cleaning, gathering firewood for the occasional cold night. Laundry, ironing (those white robes simply looked awful rumpled), repair work, plumbing, lighting. Everything that might have required physical exertion had gradually been labelled “onerous” rather than “satisfying”, and it had been deemed by higher authorities that imps should take them on as punishment.
Now, if punishment was the aim, this was inspired. Imps are so lazy that they would rather go hungry than search or prepare food. Imps have no aesthetic sense, so the idea of working physically is deeply upsetting. Where the angels enjoyed working and drew satisfaction from it, the imps hated it and increasingly resented it.
What everyone failed to realise i that the angels were punishing themselves at the same time as imposing punishment on the imps.
What they also missed was that by imposing punishment, they had compromised their own personal integrity. How can you be kind and compassionate if you simultaneously choose to cause pain and suffering to another?

Let me be clear, I am not suggesting that I have any answer for what is a deeply troubling moral and ethical conundrum. I am simply stating that angels were probably not quite the paragons of virtue that our elders have often implied. If that is the case, I would not be surprised if the imps were equally not the apotheosis of evil.

Bear that in mind for next time, when I begin to introduce you to Lily and tell you a little more about both she and Dennis…