at first

Week five of the Indie Ink weekly writing challenge! In the challenge, participants are randomly challenged by our peers with a writing prompt. I had just a little bit of fun with this one.
Once upon a time, there was a wordy princess living in a mountain kingdom. Every day she would pack her notebooks into her satchel and hike through the forest to the top of her mountain. And words would fly from her head onto the pages of notebook after notebook. In time, realizing that she wanted an audience, the princess started posting her words on trees for the woodland creatures to read. As she saw how they nibbled and then gorged on the degustation she laid out for them, she decided to fold some words up into paper airplanes and fly them off her mountain. People in the village below received her missives as they floated gently from the skies and they began to ask for more. Too-raa loo-raa they sang, more airplanes, more words from the sky, more words more words!

Soon enough a message came from the village barber that a ribald knave was papering the trees of a neighboring town in words and wheat paste. Knowing of her love for words, the barber urged the princess to come down from her mountain to meet the knave. She agreed and descended cautiously, her bare feet tippytoeing along the knave's path of words until she found him there, scribbling and pasting. She abruptly threw a haiku at him. Stunned, he questioned from where on earth the princess had alighted. She threw another haiku and he replied in kind. And soon they were rollicking through the countryside hand in hand, throwing verse upon verse at each other and all around, papering every tree in the village and starting back into the forest and up that mountain. People stopped and stared and devoured their words. More words more words!

The knave, not having spent his life on a solitary mountain with only woodland creatures eating his words, was surrounded with people and in particular a group of luscious women who could not resist his verbose charms. The princess watched the ebbs and flows as the knave teased and tickled his fans, admitting that she too was caught up in those teasing words. Though she might have liked to have the knave's attention all to herself, it was clear that his words served a strong purpose and she would need to behave in the interest of the community. She started looking and listening and breathing in the words of the others around her until one majestic voice rose louder than the rest. Intrigued, the princess queried the knave as to who could possibly possess such a voice. The knave directed her toward a grove of trees and suggested that the princess introduce herself to the queen of his village.

Once again, tentatively, the princess approached a new and intriguing talent. As she drew nearer, the princess realized that the queen was carving words into a tree, slowly, methodically, in beautiful looped cursive. How does she do that, the princess wondered, drawing ever nearer. When she placed herself directly in front of the tree she saw that the queen was working with a knife like a paintbrush to canvas, carving words so delicate and deep and true that the strokes gleamed like a hot diamond in the bark. Whole stories spun like golden silk wound around the tree in the queen's expressive hand. The princess read and read and read some more, often holding her breath and then gasping for air. The princess wondered what the hell she thought she was doing with her handbill postings and paper airplanes full of verse. "What an amateur!" she cursed, and threw her pen down. She would never write again! But the rustling of paper and pen tossed errantly in the gathered leaves distracted the queen from her intricate musings. She turned to the princess, picked up the crumbled verse and wondered aloud who may have sent to her words of such beauty as those the princess had discarded. The princess and the queen locked eyes brimmed with tears as they recognized themselves in one another.

Meanwhile, the saucy village strega toured amidst the chorus of villagers, devouring the wheatpasted words of the knave, the intricately carved musings of the queen
, and now the airbound words of our princess as well. A verse-thrower of a different stripe, the strega felt connected most strongly to the princess and her short poetic form. The strega read and read. And then she sought out the princess, showering her with admiring praise until the princess turned to her and said, "Strega! Go write your own poems! You are so poetic, do you not write?" And sure enough, the strega replied that yes indeed, here were her tapestries covered with magnificent words. She began to sing and chant and her gauzy gown lit on the air and she waved her wand and there flew the verses to the scrolled fabric, out of thin air, fast and furious. "But you are a genius with your magic!" cried the princess, embracing the strega, who reacted with deep shock and extraordinary pleasure all at once. "Let us throw verse together!" And they did. Verse after verse, form after form, line by line and word by word.

In the end, the princess, full of love and devotion, tossed more and more words and verses into the air. She took up residence nestled in the bosom of her mountain in her new village community, instead of high above and all alone. As she became stronger and bolder in her verse, her community grew. Her friends brought her gifts: birdhouses, ripe peaches, even manatees. All because she had found her voice and used her words.

And they all lived happily ever after.
This week, I was challenged by the very lovely Mandy of My Plaid Pants to write about a pivotal event in my life and describe how it changed my outlook on life.


  1. I AM saucy!
    and may I saucily say I fucking love this?
    and you. and them.

  2. So you're like my new favorite person. I love love love this and am so happy to have given you the prompt that inspired this awesome post. Have I mentioned that I'm so happy to get to know you? Yea. You're pretty awesome. xo

  3. oh man, the love. yippee!
    happy happy happy up in here.

  4. I read your words and hear your voice. :)

  5. (abruptly throwing a haiku at you!)

  6. I love you.
    That is all.

    Except for this. This has all the cheeky whimsy of a children's story, complete with allegory and a moral: use your words! reach out to the world and it will reach back!

    It makes me wish I could draw, so I could illustrate it the way it looks in my head.

  7. yes, i am so planning on reading this to my kids tonight.
    i know i am not supposed to laugh at my own jokes, but every time i think about "she abruptly threw a haiku" i start giggling and cannot stop. oh my god.
    and you know what? i imagine this illustrated by mordecai gerstein. maybe i can send it to him and he can get working on that. hee.

  8. I too admire the queen.

    This was quite fun and lovely. I'm so glad I found you (via twitter.)

  9. the queen is to be admired! she is, after all, the queen.

  10. Lovely story! Really enjoyed it. I could see the princess skipping through the forest, decorating it with her words :)

  11. This was a romp in the world of words indeed! What a fabulous piece! There are simply not enough fairy tales in our grown-up, yay you for bringing them back. :)

  12. Love your writing! Amazing. Reminds me too much of all the whimsy and optimism I used to write with when I was a schoolgirl. Where did that go? You should definitely look into making this a kids book. I know a few fantastic [amateur] illustrators. If you don't do it I'll stop reading your blog.

  13. this really is a fun read!

  14. people are all full of love laced with threats in here today!
    i supposed for the children's version the luscious women will have to go. :)


    Who is that ribald knave of which you speak?

    He sounds like an awesome sort of guy.

    Totally awesome.

    I bet he really knows how to party.

  16. This piece makes me so happy! And I agree, it totally needs to be illustrated.

  17. love, love, love. that is all i have about this!

  18. I am mesmerized and agree with Marian - LOVE! And the fact you used "Too-raa loo-raa" makes me love it even more.

  19. That was so funny! I like tales. I can imagine telling this one to little kids to encourage them to write! Awesome :)

  20. aw, thank you people. i like this tale, too.
    i read it to my kids and they really dug it :)


Thank you for sharing your thoughts!