Friday, January 17, 2020

Paint the Wizard's Fire

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

goals ~ cold ~ push-ups ~ shake ~ temperature

It was submitted by:

So, I had a dream like this recently, and I kinda added some details, but the bones of it are what happened in the dream. I can't explain my brain. 


Her temperature hadn't really changed much since the last time she checked. Still over 101 and stubbornly not coming down. She knew it was a good thing, that her body was working hard to kill off whatever cold germs she'd been invaded by, but fucking hell it was never fun. Burning hot one moment then the shake of chills the next. The aches. The discomfort. She couldn't get comfortable, and the pain every time she coughed made her feel like a Sasquatch was doing push-ups on her chest.

So she took all the different over the counter meds she might need and hoped for relief. Just a degree lower on the fever was one of her only goals really. Just that much would be a drastic improvement.

The room faded as she fell asleep and was replaced by a mossy, overgrown garden.

What the...

Where am I?

I must be dreaming.

That thought relaxed her a little, so she took in her surroundings. The garden was walled off with crudely cut stones, crumbling in places and covered in others by vines. There were trees on the outside of the walls completely ripped from the ground, recently overturned, while others stood tall with dark green leaves and the power of something ancient, something that had seen what the world had to offer and lived to see more.

The garden itself was a tangled mass of spiked vines full of huge, bright exotic flowers with blood-hued stamens, bushes full of dripping berries that smelled sickly sweet, small trees bare of leaves and with blackened trunks...not a single one did she recognize.

And if that wasn't weird enough, everything was too quiet. Too still. She couldn't hear any life at all actually, and in a place like this, bugs would be thriving. Frogs. Salamanders. Newts. Toads. The silence unnerved her making the hairs stand up on the back of her neck.

In the middle of the garden was a fountain. Surely something would be drinking or living in the trinkling water but it was quite a long way off. She couldn't even make out what shape it was, but something pulled her to it. There was a swirling, chaotic, debris covered walking path that led to it though, and without really understanding why, she set off.

Time dragged on, and it felt and LOOKED like she had barely made any progress towards her goal when she started hearing the whispers.

She's here. She'll kill him. The Black Wizard.

She's here. She'll free us.

She's here. She's here. She's here again.

She'll kill him.

The whispers should have been terrifying beyond words, but instead she found herself standing taller, straighter, and feeling confident in a way she never had before in her life.

She's here. We need her.

Protect her. She must make it to the fountain.

She trudged on seeming to make a little more progress while the whispers floated around her like shimmering hordes of butterflies. The vegetation grew even thicker now on either side of the path with heavy fruits bending small trees almost to the ground and ripe gourds huddled in the massive patches of vines all around the path. The smell of rot hung in the air crowding around patches of moss and clutches of wildflowers. She could almost taste it, felt it roil across her skin. The place simultaneously felt familiar and foreign. Known and mysterious.

The closer she moved to the fountain the louder the voices became until it was a roar in her head like television static turned to maximum volume. The voices talked over one another blending into a chaotic metal melody, a cacophony of pleas, hopes, and directions with one clear message.

She was here to kill the Black Wizard and set these souls free.

She must have been closer to the fountain now. In the distance and coming nearer all the time, green streaks of lightning lit up the land. A dark castle stood on a cliff overlooking the garden, looking at her with each strike, and every time she felt an intense cloud of dread wash over her. But the voices kept her determined, focused. She had to help them.

She's here. She'll kill him. rejoice she is here!!Help her. Girl, you will kill him. Please. 

She edged even closer now seeing signs nailed to posts stabbed into the ground. They were covered in...runes? Some kind of letters or symbols she didn't understand. But she also got her first look at the Black Wizard on these as an Uncle Sam stylized figure glaring out at her from under a black hat and pointing in her direction. His yellowed, crooked teeth were bared, lips pulled back in a snarl under a nose that had obviously been broken and never reset properly. His eyes were green but not the kind of green you would ever find on a human. They nearly glowed even in print and matched the color of the lightening streaking down from the castle on the cliff. His black tattered robe and long gray, scraggly beard just added more to the feelings of terror that were now causing chills to run down the length of her body, head to toe.

She knew him somehow. She was meant to be here.

She hugged her arms around her and kept moving. But now the voices cohesively chanted a lyric that whirled around her like a cotton candy blanket and reverberated in her mind, an earworm she couldn't shake.

Take the beetles, take the slugs and place them on the pyre. Take their ashes for yourself and paint the wizard's fire.

She had no idea what it really meant, but the feeling that she absolutely had to get to the fountain was stronger than ever. She was close now and could make out the shape of the thing. It had a round black marble base. The center of it spawned a large green and gold snake unlike anything she had ever seen before. It coiled around a large sword with detailed scales that glinted in the flashes of green light. It's hooded head faced straight forward just above the sword's hilt. It menaced any creature who viewed it while still managing to peacefully spit water into the pool surrounding it. Overall the whole thing was eerie but combined with everything else going on, with the lightning striking more and more frequently shining on the blood red eyes of the stone snake, the entire setting became that much more fucked up. She had no words to describe exactly what she was feeling, and to make matters worse, her brain was so cloudy with the drive and emotions of the voices. The lyrical chant pushed her and their fear and hopelessness spilled onto every nerve. She was tense, chilled, almost sick with the dread.

Take the beetles, take the slugs and place them on the pyre. Take their ashes for yourself and paint the wizard's fire.

She stood before the fountain as lightning hit one of the trees just outside the garden walls. It was almost like the garden was protected somehow from the wizard's wrath easing some of her tensions. She was safe, she thought.




Take the beetles, take the slugs and place them on the pyre. Take their ashes for yourself and paint the wizard's fire.

One peek into the fountain itself ruined her. The water swirled with creatures she couldn't recognize. Beetles with fangs, glowing and fighting. Blood in a range of colors. Small amphibians tearing into others. Slugs in blues and purples gnashing their teeth. Everything a predator, waiting to use their claws and spiked tails and serrated teeth on whatever they could.

Take the beetles, take the slugs

She reached into the mass of water and writhing beings pulling one neon yellow nearly fluorescent slug from the mass, held it above her, and watched it wriggle in the air trying to bite...

Then she woke up.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

Southern Belle Charm

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Medicated Musings

Follow Me Home

On the Border

Friday, January 10, 2020

It's My Party

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 7 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

There’s so much difference between how we celebrate birthdays as children and as adults. What would be your ideal birthday celebration at this point in your life?

It was submitted by:


I grew up pretty poor. My parents did a lot of struggling to make it on my dad's welding business and drug habits. Stress. Second mortgages. Stubbornness. I don't think we would have made it without my grandparents helping where they could when asked, and they were barely solid middle class themselves. And that's just the stuff I knew about from overhearing fights and actually retained. I can't imagine how bad it might have actually been since I wasn't privy to it all of course.

Because of that, because of my dad's temper and abuse and his habits, birthday parties weren't big deals and stopped when we were still pretty young. We didn't even have many friends my parents felt comfortable inviting over except kids of their own, similarly backgrounded friends, and those fell out of life pretty often. My dad didn't get the nickname "Stormy" because he had an affinity for taming gray horses like in some afterschool special about a girl being sent to find herself on her uncle's ranch. He was volatile. Mean. You never knew which side of him you might get. Friends just didn't last. So neither did our friendships, the few we had.

I tried to do things differently for my own kid. We made birthdays into fairly big affairs with a themed party at a park and tons of friends and family. We've done Batman, SpongeBob, trucks, zombies, pirates, Harry Potter, adventure time, stranger things, Mario and more. I've done facepainting, scavenger hunts, pinatas, shaved ice machines, and even set up a piece of a Mario level for activities and made a lot of the treat bags, favors, and decor myself. I wanted him to feel special on those days, to be the center of our little world and to know he mattered to a lot of people even if it was my friends who grew to love him through their relationship with me. It wasn't the birthday really or the celebration of another year, it was meant to be a celebration of everything he is. (And it suuuuuuuucks that he didn't want that this past year because we had a rough one).

I'm not big on being social. I'm mostly housebound because of chronic illness, so being social isn't something I can really do. But even before I got sick, it wasn't really my bag. So I haven't ever wanted to make birthdays a big deal as I've gotten older. I don't care about the aging reminder. I never thought I'd make it this far in life so every year I get I embrace it. Fully. But my love language is also acts of service, so I would be lying if I went about writing this whole thing and not admit that at least once I'd like for someone to celebrate all things me on my birthday. The kind of work and planning that goes into making a party where many are invited but is still super personal isn't easy. To make it about the person and not have it feel like any other day is a feat. I've don't it for my kid his whole life so far and for partners as well. So I know what a job it is, how hectic it can get, and the kind of thoughtfulness and craftiness involved. It would mean the absolute world to me to have someone do the same just once.

I think acts of service as a love language is probably one of the most understood because it's more than "I did these dishes of which I dirtied half so you didn't have to" and it's never really that. It's about showing you know someone well with action. Not with gifts or words or affection but actual action which doesn't end at "I did chores I should be doing anyway." Fuck, it doesn't even begin there really unless the person is doing a chore they know I hate and not just something they should be helping with anyway and wanting a war medal for it. It's "I made you a playlist" or "I saw this and thought of you and snapped this pic" or "I cooked for you" or "I researched and read about your illness." It could definitely be "i want to celebrate all things you on your birthday if you're up for it. Leave the planning to me."

I honestly wouldn't have words, and I would definitely cry.

So for the most part, I'm ok with mundane birthdays that I relish more than I let on. In private. Because I can't really do the whole social experience like most, and I'm not the kind of person to expect a yearly party or huge shindig. Birthdays that are small gifts and heartfelt Facebook messages that make me cry are absolute perfection as it is. I love them. I love the thoughtfulness that I already get on my birthday, and I love spending birthdays cuddled up with a book and a furkid or kids.

For the most part.

But just once, there's a part of me that would really love having the kind of parties I've planned for others, to be on the receiving end of that kind of honor and act of service, and to be recognized for who I am and the part I play in people's lives that way.

I'm not counting on it, of course. It's never a good idea to wish people will do the things for you that you do for them because everyone's ideas of expressing love is as different as the way they want to be shown love. Not gonna stop me from thinking wistfully about it though.

p.s. if anyone ever sees this and does it, do NOT invite family. thank you. haha


here are the rest of this week's participants!

Baking In A Tornado https://www(dot)

Spatulas on Parade

Wandering Web Designer

Southern Belle Charm

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Sarah Nolan