Following what we deemed to be the ‘success’ of our winter story-telling in Ilkley Library last year we (our writers’ club, Writing on the Wharfe) repeated the exercise last Saturday but with Spring/Easter stories. Three of our new members were performing for the first time. There were some great stories, poems and a song – or two.
Great fun, good chats in the pub afterwards for some of us then more ‘fun’ in the park for a few of us (it was a spectacularly lovely sunny day, warm, more like summer).
A chat with one of our new members in the pub showed me the path the protagonists in my ‘long short story’ might take and an ‘event’ in the park gave me an idea of how they might reach their destination, whatever that might be (I’ve written the beginning and the end, though it’s all in draft so could change).
I hope that I might receive some of the contributions from other members so I can post them somewhere so you can see them, but in the meantime I can only post mine, below, prompted by a comment from a member when planning, that “children should be introduced to new words”.
“I’m really fed up, cooped up here in the dark.” The voice was muffled in the cramped space.
“Oh be quiet, we haven’t been in here for very long, not a day yet, and we’ll be out soon then you know what will happen, don’t you? You’ll really have something to complain about.” The answering voice was very close, a soft, calming voice even if it was telling him off.
“Well, I wish I could at least see you. You do have a lovely voice.”
“That’s nice, thank you. So, would you like me to sing you a song to pass the time?”
“Oh yes please, I’d love that.”
“OK, now let me see, let me see … oh yes …
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great —”
“No, no, no, stop! Not that one, please, anything but that one.”
“I’m sorry, it’s the only one I know. What else could I do? Oh yes, would you like a limerick instead? I know a limerick, in fact I just made it up.”
“OK, I’d rather hear you sing but if you only have that song. You do have such a beautiful voice.”
“Well, I’ll try to sing-song it. Here goes …
“There once was an egg called Humpty
Very good looking but dumpty,
He sat in a box
Protected from shocks
Till he sat on a wall and —”
“Woah, stop, it’s going to be as bad as your song for sure!”
“Oh dear. How about a haiku then?”
“What’s a hi coo? Something a pigeon says?”
“No silly, it a very short Japanese poem, just three lines.”
“Alright, go on then, but nothing about sitting on a wall this time, please.”
“Right, let me see …
“sitting in the dark
humpty met girl in a box
fell in love right there”
“That’s not a poem, it doesn’t rhyme.”
“A haiku doesn’t rhyme, it just has five syllables, then seven syllables, then five syllables. Lots of poems don’t rhyme. Do you know what a syllable is?”
“Of course I know what a syllabub is. My mum makes them all the time. Do you think I’m —”
A sudden burst of bright light, and excited voices of children, interrupted:
“Oh yes, they look perfect, I think I’ll choose this one, it’s a nice pale colour so I can paint it,” said one of the children, a girl about seven years old, as she carefully lifted her selection out of the box and put it in a white egg cup.
“The one next to it looks good for me,” said another voice, a boy about the same age. He lifted the adjacent egg out of the box and put it, not so carefully, into another egg cup next to the first one.
“Be careful,” said the girl, “you’ll break it if you’re so rough. So, what are you going to do with yours? Something nice for Easter?”
“I’m going to make it into Darth Vader, all black, with a big laser gun blasting everything to pieces.”
“Oh no, that’s not right. Anyway, I’m sure your’s is a girl. It’s mine that’s a boy.”
“OK, OK … I’ll make it Maleficent then.”
“Why do you always have to make everything nasty. I bet you don’t even know what maleficent means, do you?”
“It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just the name of the wicked queen in Sleeping Beauty. I like her, she’s got horns, which is perfect.”
“It does so mean something, it means something doing evil or harm to someone else. Do you really want that for Easter?”
“Of course I do,” the boy said, drawing the sword from the belt of his red soldier’s uniform and brandishing it wildly.
“Oh do be careful, it’s you that’s maleficent, not the egg. I’m going to make mine into Humpty Dumpty, with red trousers and a big smile.”
“Did you hear that?” the soft voice said, “I’m going to be a wicked queen and you’re going to be Humpty Dumpty. You know what happened to him don’t you?”
“I don’t care, it’s just nice to be next to you again and to see you. You’re just as beautiful as your voice”.
Before an answer could be made both eggs were lifted out of the egg cups and the children were working busily with paintbrushes, the girl with red, the boy with black. Soon they had finished, a jolly Humpty Dumpty in one egg cup, a menacing black queen with plasticine horns in the other.
“Come on, let’s go and hide them for the egg hunt,” said the girl, picking up Humpty Dumpty and running outside, followed by the little soldier with his dark queen.
“Let’s hide them behind the holly bush, you know, on that wall. They won’t be easy to find there, especially as it’ll be a bit prickly to get in there,” shouted the boy as he ran towards his chosen spot. The girl squeezed in behind him, placing Humpty Dumpty carefully on the wall. “Hooray,” cheered the boy. Drawing his sword and, waving it about, he knocked Humpty down, where he lay on the ground, his smile still beaming up at the children but his red trousers in a dozen small pieces.
“Don’t worry, I’ll fix him” said the boy as the girl began to cry.
“Don’t be stupid,” the girl blubbed through her tears. “If all the king’s soldiers and all the king’s men couldn’t do it, one stupid little soldier isn’t going to do it. I’ll go and make another, but you just go away, right away.” Stamping on the smile as she squeezed out of the space, she ran into the house and slammed the door firmly shut.
Now, If you looked very, very carefully at the evil queen up on the wall, you might have seen her smiling – maleficently!
Now children, I’ll let you into a secret, maleficently isn’t a word. I just made it up. But I think it’s a good word for the kind of smile you might see on that bad queen’s face, isn’t it? Can you say it? So, how did the queen smile? – MA – LE – FI – CENT – LY.
Now here’s one for the adults:
or perhaps even better
Ceno – empty (as in cenotaph, an empty tomb)
Silica – glass, or Cylica – drinking vessel
Phobia – a fear of
So, at risk of offending any Greek scholars out there, fear of an empty glass, that Saturday evening feeling which prompts you to get to Aldi, pdq!