Edwin’s Dilemma (Part II)

Blast.  I was late.  Oh well.

Edwin’s Dilemma – Part 2

 

                Something sharp in the air held Edwin on the edge of a sneeze.  It was right there, tickling so fiercely in his sinuses that his eyes could hardly hold open.  Whatever was in this witch’s hut was unnatural and probably disagreeable in the blood of man.  Exactly what Edwin sought.

                Edwin wanted poison.  A patented blend of vengeful irony and homicide, bottled up for his convenience.  The inner hut was small, and stacked with trappings and chemicals and herbs only half-assorted.  The local witch had history in and out of Kastern, but Edwin always avoided her as a tribute to his good judgment.  Whether reliable or not, she was a witch, and witches always caused trouble.

                Besides this one was looking at crazy from a mile past the horizon.

                “Here,” Edwin held up what looked like a weed, “How about this? Grind it down maybe? Do some of your voodoo magic and make a potion?”

                Pud the Witch glowered, “You mock.  You ignorant.  You stupid.”

                “I hungry.  I impatient.  And yes, I mock.  Get on with it.”

                Pud shook her head without reservation, her tangled mop of hair swaying like a curtain, “Not briarweed, too potent.  Cannot hide smell of urine.”

                “What?” Edwin gingerly sniffed the flora in his hand, “It doesn’t smell anything like that.  Is it supposed to?”

                “Potion most effective if I pee in it,” she turned away but Edwin caught a fraction of a grin on her lips, “Stronger that way.”

                Edwin spread his hands out in sudden astonishment, “Of course it is!  It’s your urine.  Why bother using any poison? Just hand me a vial of that and I could probably kill half the kingdom if I’m smart enough.”

                “I’ve tried.  Doesn’t work,” Pud pursed her lips.  Edwin didn’t want to think about the implications.

                “Alright, so how about this?” The fresh noble grabbed a pouch off the windowsill.

                “NO!” The witch screamed and scrambled.  Edwin didn’t know what to do before she slapped the pouch from his hands. “No no no.  Not unless you want victim to grow flowers from chest and tops of feet like mountain people.”

                “Why.  What conceivable purpose could something like that possibly serve?”

                She struck him on the skull with two fingers, “You stupid.  You ignorant of power in the flowers.  Come, follow me.”

                Edwin did so hesitantly, and while entertaining the idea of throwing this loon into his some-day dungeon where she could be insane and talk to the walls in peace.

                Pud guided Edwin to a row of shelves separate from the rest.  With one trembling hand she grabbed a sheepskin bag that wiggled with contents.  She dropped it in Edwin’s open palm and he felt something fluid inside, “One of Patty’s favorites.  Glistenberry oil.  Exactly eight drops for full effect.”

                “That makes literally no sense,” Edwin said.

                “Put into drink of victim and,” Pud ran her thumbnail along her throat, “out they go.”

                “What constitutes eight drops?  Why can’t I just put in as much as I want?”

                “Eight drops.”

                Edwin blinked and dropped the matter.  He reached wordlessly for his skin of money and drew out several gold coins, “How much?”

                Pud levelled her eyes at him, “Twice that.”

                “Nonsense,” Edwin rebelled, “I was already offering twice its worth.”

                “Ah, but you have so much.  Couldn’t hurt, hm?”

                Edwin glowered at the money sack.  Amateur mistake, Edwin.  Amateur mistake.  “Very well.”

                Paying the fine, Edwin grabbed his purchase and took his leave as fast as the hut door would open.  He couldn’t let more of this witch’s imbecility soak its way into his brain.

                Edwin found Bismark examining something off to the West and thought it might be the diving sun, but the day was too young.  They were near the King’s court, just on the outskirts of his hold.  Awnings hung around them in brilliant colors, with tit-for-tat merchants selling their wares in force.  Having his sinuses cleared, Edwin remembered his ailment did not come from the witch’s hut, but instead the King’s illness.  It was passed to him like a rich man’s curse.  The poison would work, eight drops or not.  The King would soon be dead.

                “Bismark,” Edwin held up the sheepskin sack, “I have our retribution.”

                “Your retribution,” Bismark said without turning, “Your preemptive, blind retribution.  Lord, you still don’t know if you’re actually dying or if your ailment even came from the King.”

                “Of course it did, don’t ask stupid questions.”  Edwin churned through the nasally drone of his throat.

                Bismark was strong and loyal, Edwin’s greatest friend since the days where they wore the street as their bed and home.  They butt heads on occasion, even more so now that Edwin had ascended into a life of riches and taken Bismark as his confidant.  Edwin wasn’t sure why that was.

                “Did you find our man?” Edwin asked.

                Sighing hard, Bismark finally met his eyes, “Sir Linton has an unsated desire to dispose of the King.  In the early years of his reign, it seems the good King made a decision that lead to longsuffering for Linton’s family.  In the midst of their poverty, his firstborn son passed away.  Now Linton stands in favor with the King as a head of foreign trade and disciplinary treatments.”

                Edwin lifted his eyes, “But still holds the grudge?”

                Bismark nodded.

                “Very good.”  Edwin handed over the pouch of poison, “Make sure that he gets more than eight drops into the King’s drink.”  Because screw that old hag and her rules.

                “I don’t like any of this.  But, if it really comes down to it, I hope you were right about the sickness.”  Bismark snatched the skin and pulled it into his coat.

                Edwin held impassivity, but only until Bismark strode off towards the King’s Palace, feet set on a mission.  As he watched his companion depart, Edwin ran Bismark’s words through his head, but he could not decipher if they had any real meaning or not.

                Before becoming a young noble, Edwin had no appreciation for things like recreational garden-tending.  It was a thing reserved for the elite.  A frivolous activity for the hands of those who didn’t know real work or hardship.  Even now Edwin didn’t understand how some of his peers could be so fascinated over something so trivial.  In his admittance though, the flora had started to catch his fancy.  Not as a personal activity, but aesthetically, for the beauty they provided Kastern.  He didn’t care much for beauty over the years.  Hard to appreciate something you’ve never really known.

                One leg swaying over the ledge, Edwin perched himself on the rim of a home, in a nook not easily noticed.  It was one of his favorite spots to sleep before his inheritance.  He spun an apple in one hand, taking arbitrary and infrequent bites from its soft body.  Feeling docile, his attention easily caught on the flowing people of the street below and the garden master’s shop that filled the sky with aroma.  Bismark would return before long.

                Indeed, no sooner than Edwin took down the last bite of the apple core did his confidant round the corner, his face shadowed by hood and discretion.  Edwin rolled his shoulders to loose a couple cracks in his spine and left the perch to meet Bismark.

                Eyes shifting around to assess if he’d been followed, Bismark finally sighed and removed the hood, “It is done.”

                Edwin didn’t allow himself to smile.  He was a nobleman now.  Even through complacence, he needed to be well-mannered, “Thank you, Bismark.  You have done me a great service.”

                “Have I?  I’m not so sure.”  Bismark said.

                “You did deliver the poison to Sir Linton, yes?”

                “I did.”

                “And you have faith in his ability to administer the poison?”

                “Unfortunately, I do.”

                Edwin frowned, “Then I don’t see the question.”

                Bismark stepped closer.  Only now could Edwin see the sweat on his forehead and the pale tone of his skin.  “What happened?” Edwin said in growing fear.

                “Do you have faith in what you’re doing?”

                Pausing for just a moment too long, Edwin swallowed, “The King has commited a crime.  The crime of murder.  Is it not my job to right this wrong?”

                “So you believe to the end that you are justice, here.”  Bismark nodded, “Then the poison was real?  Because I only gave Sir Linton half.”

                Edwin felt beads against his skin. “What did you do with the other half?”

                “I want to believe that you are a good person, Edwin,” Bismark smiled sickly, “You are my best friend and now my lord.  I have faith that you would not truly harm a man that has done such good.  So I’m going to find if your motives are true.  I drank the other half.”

 

End of Part II

The Bamboo Cutter

I made it!  I really didn’t think I’d have a story done by the end of the day.  Between finishing Breaking Bad, working, conquering the world, all of my recreational activities, and raw procrastination, I had a very difficult time coming up with a story this week.  To the point that I asked my friend for an idea what to write about.  This is the result.  I am an amateur with humor and only make good satire when the stars align, so think of this as a ‘serious humor’ of sorts.  It’s a little rough because of how rushed it was, but oh well. 1,064 words.

 

The Bamboo Cutter

                Until recently, Lenny was only familiar with the troubles of men, and was not sure how far those troubles could extend to the panda.  But in a change of fate as prejudiced as it was spontaneous, it was suddenly clear where his worth rested in the cold, black heart of Earth.  It might not have seemed like much, but that yogurt had weight.  It meant something.  It was an ultimatum, a final straw in his long-since-thinned patience.

                Lenny was a panda, worn in the womb of the world, and he wanted yogurt.

                You might not think it, but life is largely the same for pandas as for men.  At least, as far as America is concerned.  And not only pandas, but since the turning of the age, all forms of bear-life had begun their acceptance campaign into the democratic culture.  Though Lenny was not particularly fond of his white, polar cousins.  But they were all treated equally and with due fairness, as is the supposed American way.  Except for now.  Now Lenny was a bump of broiled distaste, because one young, human cashier had determined that pandas and their kin weren’t allowed to have yogurt.  Not of the strawberry, peach, or vanilla varieties.  The only ones that mattered.

                Instead of shrugging it and moving on to another employee, Lenny decided to let the discrimination sit and roll in his huge, beer-born, panda belly.  With the taste of a strawberry memory teasing him and yogurt profoundly absent from his life.

                That morning had been bruise-colored, with only scattered clouds and a fatigued, blurry sun.  The bumpy road to work was hell with a hangover, like a tent peg lodged firmly between both eyes.  It throbbed and throbbed, and in the meantime Lenny’s anger swelled, releasing itself during the lunch hour when Carl called him into the office.  Lenny knew he didn’t work very hard.  He was never ambitious and despite fitting the mold as a perfect bamboo cutter, his productivity was on a years-long decline.  So it wasn’t a surprise when Carl dropped the bomb that he was being laid off.  But of course, it still hurt, even through his thick bear-skull and last night’s vodka.

                Now it was evening and Lenny’s fur was disheveled with a long day’s toil of hating himself.  He tried to vent some of that anger at Smokey’s Everybear Gymnasium, but succeeded only in pulling two different muscles.  Afterwards he wanted to shower, but there was only cold water, and after swearing his way through that treason, he learned that there were no towels offered for drying, either.  Certain that it wasn’t enough just to take the low road, Lenny figured he had to be colorful about his frustration, so he promptly crapped on the floor before leaving.

                The roads were mostly clear, and he was pushing eighty-five.  Lenny’s soul was lost in the orange inferno of passing streetlights.  Both his mind and what was left of his heart tracked back to his family.  They deserved better, and for the small part, he tried to give them better.  A year after their daughter was born, Lenny and Jean almost split off.  Nobody would blame his wife for abandoning the poor bamboo cutter.  He was emotionally absent and known to beat her on rare, but not too rare, occasions.  It wasn’t really his fault.  Lenny was just repeating the gestures of love from his old man.  But he never hit Heather, their daughter.  That would have been too much.  If it had ever gone that far…well, it didn’t.  So he was at least thankful for that much, even if his relationship with her was on the rocks right now.

                Growing faster than Lenny could blink and with the dark, spitfire attitude of her young mother, Heather had reached the glacial pit of adolescence.  In her furious, relational charges, she had hooked up with Castor, the Mellick’s son.  A polar bear.  Lenny threw back a swig of Captain Morgan every time he thought about it.  Why a polar bear?  Why those narcissistic, ill-educated oafs?  He could only hope that the relationship would be as short as his own high school bouts with love, and that his naïve daughter would learn to shoot for higher standards in the aftermath.

                Man, strawberry yogurt sounded divine.

                It was in the throes of his reverie that Lenny saw the dancing beams of blue and red in his rearview.  He swore and groaned the only way a panda could.  Why did his back suddenly itch in that one spot he couldn’t reach?  Blast it.

                Lenny pulled over and waited with impatience as the police officer moved to his door.  Lenny rolled down the window and sighed, not even bothering to hide Mister Morgan, his partner-in-crime.

                “Good evening,” the officer said, “Do you know why I pulled you over tonight?”

                “Because I have a bumper sticker that says ‘Kiss me, I’m Asian’?”

                Brows tenting, the officer pursed his lips, “No.  Reckless driving.  Thirty over the speed limit, plus a little bit of swerving,  His body slanted as he caught sight of the beer, “How much have you had to drink tonight?”

                Lenny pulled in a chest of air and tried not to hick as he released it, “How many are usually in Captain Morgan’s crew?”

                Unamused, the officer penned something on his clipboard.  “License and registration?”

                “How about this,” Lenny bargained, “I will take any ticket that you have to give me, I will even go to jail for the night, if you go over to that convenience store and buy me some yogurt.  You have no idea.  I would kill a man for some vanilla right now.”

                Blinking slowly, Lenny looked dumbly at his steering wheel.  Did he just say that out loud?  Curse you Morgan, curse you.

                The follow transpiration was a pitiful attempt to reclaim his credit as an honorable driver, but with constant backdrops and poor decisions that ultimately landed the panda in overnight jail.  On his way to the bunks, Lenny thought it could be worse.  He wasn’t terribly interested in seeing Jean and Heather right now anyways, jobless and wasted as he was.  At least, it seemed like it could be worse, until he found that the entire cell was to the rim with polar bears and their filth.

                And not a trace of bloody yogurt to be found.

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The Project

I wrote my usual short story for this week’s update, but I liked it enough that I’m going to hold off on posting it until after I’ve put the bad boy through a short-story competition.  As such, I’m just going to share about a project that me and my friend Michael have been working on since early July.  Something that I will unceremoniously dub “The Project”, for the sake of this post.

I don’t know about him, but it’s on my bucket-list to help make a videogame.  I didn’t think that meant I’d be spearheading one.  Mind you, we aren’t doing this completely from scratch, but pretty close.  We both purchased a wonderful program called RPG Maker during the Steam Summer sale, and since the purchase have set off on what we know is going to be a long and hard journey to complete a videogame.  The purchase was especially appropriate because we both love traditional JRPG-style games (that is, Japanese Role-Playing Games. Think early Final Fantasy, Golden Sun, and Pokemon).  Michael is the chief executive whatever and head programmer of the Project, while I am the head scriptwriter.  We both do some of everything, though.  I leave a lot of the technical computer-program-y stuff to him, because I’d have a better chance of chucking a baseball into orbit than understanding most of that jargon.  Anyways, here is the basic lore and premise of our game:

“Sixty generations past, in response to the corruption and evil of the world since its birth, a terrible creature known as The Almighty materialized to “reinitialize” or reset the world, wiping it of its crime.  However, when peril was at its worst, there were eight beings that believed in the good of humanity and sought to prove to the Almighty that humans were not hopeless.  Rejecting their campaign, The Almighty continued to sew a path of destruction.  Realizing that the only way to preserve humanity was to take action themselves, these eight heroes waged war with the Almighty and struck him/it down.  They were heralded as saviors and penned in history books as the “Prides” for millennia to come.  However, though The Almighty was beaten, it was not destroyed.  His spirit fragmented into several separate entities, which lie dormant across the planet.  Over time, some have awakened and caused trouble for humanity, causing wars, disastrous natural phenomena, resurrecting the dead, and more.  But time and again they would be put to rest.

Now a dark dawn is approaching.  A few of the Fragments are already awake and wreaking havoc, while rumor tells the others shall not rest much longer.  In a time where humanity is strained with discord, failed loyalty, betrayal, and every matter of crime, there seems to be no uniting force that can oppose all of the Fragments or stop them from polymerizing and forming a new Almighty to end the world.”

Of course, that’s only a brief history, which is cheap and easy to make.  As for the actual plot of the game, we have some wonderful things in development and already possess a solid three hours of gameplay.  Hiro, our protagonist, has been incredibly fun to write (sarcastic, witty characters usually are) and his relationship and influence on others is inspired.  We have had many hurdles already, most of them on my end and most of them relating to my ineptitude with technology.  Alas, we are still trekking on, expanding our world, refining our battle system, crafting a story that is turning out much better than originally expected, and enjoying it along the way.  I find myself growing quite fond of our cast, regardless of how ignorant, remorseless, or psychotic some of them might be. 🙂

We have no intentions of selling the game, as we are amateurs doing this for kicks, but when it’s completed we will likely put it on Steam or some other related site for free.  I’m going to post periodic updates on our progress, so hopefully at least some of you will be interested in following along.  Heading out, I shall depart with a couple of my favorite in-game quotes.

Baldur:  “I cannot be destroyed.  Not by you, nor by your friends.  Congratulations, you have done what humans are best known for doing.  You have failed.”

Taiyo: “Catch you later!” *Explodes*
Jade: “Did…did she just explode?”
Hiro: “Yes…I think she did.”
Jade: “That’s what I thought.”
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Termites (Short Poem)

So I guess Tuesday is my quasi-official release date each week.  That being said, I don’t have a short story to share. This last week was a little difficult to work with, so instead I’ll post a short poem I wrote several months ago. Poetry is hardly my forte, but I rather like this one. Enjoy.

Termites

I’m a termite.  I’ve made home in this block of wood.
It’s getting warmer, I wonder if I could dig deeper in this block
to find a good place for my baby to sleep.

Sweat trickles to my eyes.   I begin to stagger.
Crackling noise disturbs my baby and wakes her from that sleep.
She shakes hard in my arms, but the ashes keep her from crying.

Our home I’ve made begins to burn, including all we have.
All our suffering for a gentle laugh, an evening, our deaths inspire.
For while we burn, another family enjoys their night out at the campfire.

The Beasts of Autumn – Short Story

This will be the last of my Fall themed short stories. I’m going to start leaning towards the genre that I prefer to write, which is fantasy fiction.  Thank you all of my new followers for your support.  Enjoy. 1,058 words.

The Beasts of Autumn – 10/09/13

                The term, as I’ve heard it used, is cut-flower.  Having been separated from your source of life.  In a patient state of un-living.  Receiving alms from friends with concern as the currency.  It’s a gentle and good thing they do, and I’m thankful.  Sometimes I forget the intent of their charity and focus only on how I haven’t yet found a magical potion to help forget my old unforgivens.  Jeremy hoots about that word and suggests that I look no further than alcohol for my elixir.  Alcohol is contemptible, especially this time of year.  Especially now, in the mid-morning hours, staring down the beasts of Autumn.

                But Jeremy is not a fool.  Only half that, and a splash of genuine friend for flavor.  He consoles me when I wrestle with the annual thoughts of her, that inamorata I once rightfully and proudly called my wife.  Now that I’ve struck the seven-year bell, I wonder if I may still call her that.  My wife.  Once upon a time, so the fairy tale reflects.  When they say happily ever after, they’re not speaking a full truth.  Even at its best, even in a make-believe world, sometime one of the two lovers will have to pass away.  I want to hear that part of the story, told from the voice left behind.

                In this season I have allergies.  Something in the fallen leaves sets me off, but it’s never so bad as to ruin a day.  When the first snow comes, I conveniently become allergic to driving.  A fair trade, since about that time everyone else conveniently forgets how to drive.  I make a fanciful display of pumpkins for my home, assorted on stair-step patterned shelves, directly beneath family photos from nine-some years ago.  The cinnamon candles I brandish year around suddenly make sense for a couple months, until winter decides to anathemize them again.  Nami says I should adapt my candles to the seasons and that it would help me appreciate cinnamon next year when the leaves start splitting off.  I would like to point her to any number of mental health manuals which suggest that hers is a bad idea.  Something about conditioning and associations.  Cinnamon smells like my wife, like my long lost heart.  I can hardly notice the scent anymore, but if I sent it away and in several months it suddenly returned, I imagine my reaction would be worse than frightful.

                It rains a lot during the fall months, to which I tip my hat and beg welcome.  There is nothing quite so stirring as a good long rain.  To be enameled by mother and her gentle nature.  The beasts of Autumn hush down a little bit more when the rain is here, and vanish completely at the first snowfall.  Only during this season of my life do I reflect so piercingly, and at such great sacrifice.  My world suffers without her.  Friends ask for my company and I decline, both to their displeasure and my own.  I think more about the children we never had, and whether they would like the rain or not.  Would their favorite color be yellow, like their mother?  Sickness makes Heaven seem cruel, and it steals away regardless of whether the new absence would be good for the world or not.  Maybe it’s best we had no progeny.  I would suffer to think about their lives if they’d inherited her pain.

                Things seem to get away from me, foremost of which is time.  I could have sworn the leaves were orange no more than two months ago.  To think that it has already been a year.  What even happened in the meantime?  I got laid off work.  I picked up something new, thanks be to Jeremy.  I went on one date and was soul-sick enough that my stomach caught the memo and helped me vomit once the evening was over.  I picked up a pet frog from Nami’s nephew.  Named it Jack Sparrow for absolutely no reason at all.  I think I went on vacation, but that might have been a couple years ago.  Really, I don’t like to track back too far.  The territory becomes unsteady.  Memories start returning, and they drag other things behind them.  I find it’s not worth it.  It isn’t worth the price of remembering.

                I read that in a book once.  The price of remembering.  When you’ve lost somebody, you begin to notice such snippets.  You incubate them in your chest and rehearse them in your sleep.  I know that price, because I barter every August.  I barter and pray the cost will drop, and that the year will be a little less lonely than the last.  Just another beast of Autumn that makes a parade of my life.  In the rare moments that I am transparent with others –and I assure you they are few – such notions make me feel overwhelmingly melodramatic.  I am a child, complaining about child-like things.  My wife died to a common, albeit crippling sickness.  So what if she passed away?  My neighbor recently lost her daughter to the sort of actions that result from overwhelming intoxication, fraternity parties and the occasional, homicidal boyfriend.  A killing stroke like that is a million miles more devastating than whatever plagues me.  But I can’t find it in myself to care.  I don’t truly feel for her loss.  Not from my gut.  Because the worst of my grief has manifested into the image of my greatest hatred.  A writhing contradiction best known as apathy.  Apathy is cold like a stone and sweet like the rain.  It makes me sick, and weary of trying to forgive myself again.  Apathy is a beast worse than hatred.

                But I let the apathy stay, because I’d rather it remained than pay the price of remembering.  I wonder what she’d think of my selfishness?  I shouldn’t dwell on it now.  That is a paper-thin question better left to steal my midnight hours.  I’m going to be awake anyways, what with the rain and my cinnamon candles and my cut-flower spirit.  I will remain that way as long as I can.  Until finally winter might come and the beasts of Autumn will rest in hibernation, resting dutifully and gaining strength for their return.  They are my tourniquet and I expect they always will be.  At least they’re consistent.

               

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Ghost – A Short Story

A new, original short story written on 09/11/13.  Only 1,200 words to welcome the coming fall months.  Enjoy.

                In evenfall there was a ghost, one who took kindly to others but found all his company alone.  Children share their tales, as children do, about when they met the ghost and what they’d done together.  About what they might do, should they ever meet this apparition again.  But while their stories were only by the fond side of the heart and meant no ill, they were also the sorts of false expression expected of children.  Unlike their tales, the ghost never housed a guest, as guests never made it so far into the woods without turning back.  More than that, it had been a long age since the ghost last knew anything of friendship.  But should any wandering souls find themselves lost in that wood, and if perchance they stumbled upon the ghost’s home, they would find something lovely.  Lovely, maybe, but terribly austere and lonesome in all the gentlest ways.

                The ghost made its days cultivating a modest cabbage patch, with rough carrots intermixed.  This gave credence to the white-washed stone gardening walls, put up only a few years earlier.  It was all that could be done to keep out intruding hare and all manner of invasive critter.  A rickety sign clicked overtop the doorframe of a home that the innocent and friendly might envy.  Scrawled in black ran across its face a single word: ‘Ghost’.  This was its home, the only place it knew.  Perhaps a mystery to the ghost, but this was also a prison.  Thoughts and memories of its life were all trapped here, and for that reason, it could never leave.  And because it would never leave, it would never find a new life.

                Still it stayed, and it was happy.  Lonely on bad days, but it was a cheerful ghost with the knowledge that bad days couldn’t last.  So it remained inside when the rains came and made its home well, so that when somebody might finally brave the wood and find the gentle home beyond, it would be ready for them.  There would be festivities of the sort only a ghost could satisfy.  It would be a celebration with warm, butter-baked bread and the ghost’s favorite kind of chocolate.  Pumpkins might be carved with the ghost’s perfectly polished tools and marshmallows would be roasted in a quiet fire. There would be music, because of course the stranger would have a spirit for song and dance.  Maybe ghosts struggle to dance, but this ghost would try.  It practiced often, when nobody was looking.

                But this was all just a dream, one of the happy dreams meant for a good day.  Today was a laundry day, which meant it was neither good, nor bad.  The ghost was thankful that it was cloudless outside.  It preferred its labors at night, and night was awfully solemn without any stars.  You’d think a ghost would have no need for laundry, but you would be wrong.  This ghost loved each of its four sheets more than anything else in the home.  They were simple, often just as dirty as they were now.  Everlasting fingers of mud had saturated deep into their white.  A light tattering could be felt in the surface of each and along their edges.  These made them imperfect.  But imperfect was most usually the best way to have something.  The ghost knew this and liked them all the same.

                Sometime long ago the ghost cut little circles in the sheets.  The circles were cut in pairs and, because ghosts aren’t very coordinated, they were laughably asymmetrical.  Some were too high, others too low.  Nearly all of them too close or too far.  But the sheets were already imperfect, and so surely they understood how difficult it was for a ghost to cut proper eye holes.  This only made the ghost love and nurture them that much more.  So as it was, the ghost would wash them, grinning as it churned through popping bubbles and suds.  The companionship of the moon made these evenings warm and before long the ghost would finish bathing its sheets.

                A slash of string was spread across the yard, suspended between two timber spires.  Since the sheets would need a chance to dry, the ghost used this line to hang them and let the night air have its way.  During this period it sank into a deep patience.  Sometimes the ghost would sit in silence and wait, other times it might hum the progression to a sweet autumn song.  You know, something red and yellow, but mostly orange.  A song that smells of nutmeg and cinnamon.  One of these days somebody would be sitting nearby and humming along.  You don’t have to be a ghost to appreciate the small things like a humming comrade.

                When finally the sheets were cured of their wetness, the ghost would pull them off the line and smile.  It would smile a tender, forgiving smile.  Something it learned from children’s books.  Armed with that smile, it would carry the sheets over and drape them on four posts, standing no more than three heads from the ground.  If assorted properly, the eye-pockets would look straight back at him.  Or as straight as possible, with the ghost’s handiwork.  In that moment, the ghost would fondly share its musings and happenings with the sheets.  They were usually a kind audience, with a generous ear.  On bad days, they never said anything.  But that was alright, because usually it was a good day, and on good days the laundry would talk back.  None of them bore scars of rudeness or malign gestures.  Instead they were friendly, and often times their stories were better than any the ghost could tell.  Together they would reminisce of young life games, younger sweetheart loves, and the adventures known to dwell in far lands and amidst the sea.  Naturally there was laughter, and even though there may not have been music, they always sang.

                In time a wind would come and snatch the sheets up as a futile attempt to steal them away.  But the ghost had a big yard, and though the sheets might tumble and mar with dirt, it would always catch them.  There would be a pang of sadness in its heart as the conversation drew to a sudden close.  For a moment the ghost believed the sheet might not ever talk again.  If anybody has ever lost a friend, or said goodbye for what they knew could be the final time, then they understand much of how the ghost felt during these moments.  But it was a hopeful ghost, with a big heart and keen understanding.  The sheets could get dirty over and over, and the ghost would always be ready to clean them anew.  So it would, so it would.

                Because today might be a good day.  Maybe.  This ghost was an ambitious ghost and not taken to long-suffering or hardship.  Strangers never came to visit, so it had time to do the laundry.  And once it had begun, it could sit alone and wait according to its custom.  Though strangers never said hello and children never ventured near its home, if the ghost waited long enough it would always have someone that might listen.  Some sheets with little holes for eyes.  Some sheets that fluttered upon a post.  Friends with which it could sing and not be disheartened.  Because at evenfall there was a ghost with homemade friends, and nobody knew their stories but him.