Since National Poetry Month kind of died out on the blog about halfway through, and I didn’t wrote much (if any) poetry…you deserve a treat if you’ve been wanting something to read.
I went into my documents and found a story I was semi-proud of and dusted it off. This story has taken MANY different forms since I first wrote it. In the end, I made it simpler during a writing course because there was a more bizarre version before this, one that needed a lot more work than I had time for. I just went through and did a quick edit of the “final version” that was handed in for the course. I still think it needs work, especially since it’s about 99.9% dialogue and could probably use a bit more than just dialogue, even if it’s just a few dialogue tags.
I hope you enjoy this short piece, even if I feel it’s not complete. Feel free to comment with any feedback. As you know, I’m not much of a prose writer, so I’m always open to how I can work on it.
A Grandpa’s Tale
“Life can’t get better than this, can it?, I thought to myself. I was lying on the bottom of a rowboat in the waters of a hidden lake. It was one of those lakes deeply secluded in a forest on a mountaintop. All around me, I could feel the heartbeat of the early morning as it was awakening. Birds were chirping. I could hear squirrels making their way through the trees on their rounds, doing what squirrels do in trees.
“I thought this could be the best morning of my life. It was so beautiful with the sun rising in through the trees. As the forest was awakening and starting its day, I felt the need to start mine, as well. Reaching over to take my breakfast from my knapsack I saw a thing almost too out of the ordinary to tell to you, my boy.”
“Grandpa come on, tell me. I can handle it.”
“No, no, I don’t think your mom would approve. This slimy thing, it was too slimy to talk about.”
“But Grandpa, I’m almost nine. I can handle anything, I’m practically a man.”
“A man? You don’t say? I guess you really are growing up. You know, I told this story to your mom when she was about your age. She had nightmares for weeks. Are you sure you can handle it?”
“Who do you think I am, Grandpa? Mom’s even scared of spiders. I’m not scared of nothing. I won’t be afraid.”
“Very well, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. You’re mom thought she was tough enough at your age, too.
“Where was I again? Ah, I remember. So, I was there in my rowboat. At this point I was sitting up like a…like a…well I was sitting up at this point and all I could do was watch as the slimiest, bluest, greenest, bumpiest tentacle I’ve ever seen…well, it was stealing and my knapsack with all my things in it. My breakfast was in there. I was frozen to in my place.”
“What’d you do next Grandpa? Did you beat it with your oars like when that shark attacked you? I bet you did. Do you have it stuffed somewhere in the basement?”
“No, no, I didn’t, son. I couldn’t. I was at a loss for what to do. I could have taken up my oar and gotten my stuff back, but when I looked around the tentacle and my knapsack were both gone. The trees and water and even the animals were all gone. The sun was the only thing left that was familiar to me.”
“They just left? No way. Those things can’t just disappear.”
“They can if you have been to the places I’ve seen. I gather I must have stumbled upon an enchanted lake and something didn’t want me to be there anymore.”
“Then where were you? If there was no water or trees where’d you go?”
“Timmy, I was transported to the middle of a desert. This must not have been an ordinary desert, either, because once I got out of the boat things changed, again. The ground was made up of hard packed sand, baking in the sun, but the air was so cold. I could see my breath.
“With nothing in sight and none of my belonging left behind, I decided to leave my rowboat behind and try to find my way back to the world I knew.”
“How’d you know where to walk? You were in the middle of a desert.”
“You are a smart little boy, aren’t you? I didn’t know where I was headed, just so you know. All I knew was that when I found the lake, I was heading west. I decided to head in the opposite direction, hoping that this desert was in the same place the lake was. So I went against the sun’s path to the east. I needed to decide fast or I might have frozen to death, even with my feet warmed by the sand.”
“What happened next? Did you find your way out of the desert, Grandpa?”
“Well how do you think I’m here to tell you this story?” The old man was pleased with the boy’s reaction. Timmy seemed to remind him of how we was in his earlier years.
“Wow Grandpa, you have been on the best adventures. I want to go with you when I grow up.”
“I think my days of taking exotic trips are over. But you can have your own when you get a little older Timmy, I promise.”
Timmy’s mother was standing against the doorjamb for the whole story. She had heard these tales many times over the years. She just stood there smiling at her son’s enthusiasm. Despite her enjoyment of the stories, she never believed them to be real. She always had questions for her dad when he told his tales, and she was always left feeling like something was off, especially as she grew older.
What she and Timmy weren’t told is that instead of looking for a way out, the old man followed a faint trail leading deeper into the desert. In the end, Timmy’s grandpa did get his knapsack and breakfast back. He still has the sack in a chest in the basement of his house, though the slime from the tentacle never fully washed off. He also has what was inside that sack. His wife wore it on her finger for 40 years, and Timmy’s mother wears it on a chain to this day. He never told them this part of the story. He felt it was too much of a stretch for them to believe, but one day they’ll understand.