This story came from our anagram activity. We started with a word - catastrophe - and from that made as many words as we could. We came up with a list of nearly 100. I used all of those words in the (rather silly) story below. For more info on this exercise or for other ideas, check out our writing section.
A forest to a man standing outside looks like but a line of trees. It's a visible wall behind which the world lies still and in front of which man rules all.
But for the man inside, there is a different story to tell. For he knows that the trees talk, and they stand not in lines but in reckless heaps and groves. The rustle without rest in the day, set in their ground, shaking their tops. But at night when the stars dance in the sky, they howl and moan as if they were men too.
Outside these boundaries is an easy world, but inside is a place of magic. One can sit and rot in the face of insanity at the thought of what goes on in here, or he can learn the way - of the horse, of the apes, of the rasta rat with the pear-shaped stache who acts like he is what he eats (the cat).
I know it all sounds a bit strange, peeking is as you are, between the cracks in our wondrous curtain that separates the ordinary world and here. Here is a place with tales to tell if you, good man, should care to hear. Allow me to introduce myself - Sir Nautical Hare, the only. I am what I am, and I eat what I ate. I sleep with my feet to the east because I like to imagine in my dreams I'm a peach. I'm sure you understand, that's why I share.
Take a seat, I know it's hot. And no, I don't have any water. But lend me your ear and I'll prepare you some tea and toast, pasta if you wish, though I hate - no detest it - myself. I can however make a pesto paste that would make your head spin.
Never mind that, tea it is for now. Close your eyes or stare off far over there, where as it happens this story does begin.
Amara. Her name was Amara. Amara was a woman, yes, but too she was at times a bird. In her hat and cape, soaring through a hailstorm on the back of her steer, Black Heart. And the bull was that, at its core, trust me there. These two, they were never apart.
Amara and Black rode into town one afternoon on a supply run - soap, rope, fix a tear in her coat, the usual stuff. But Amara wasn't herself that day, and when she was someone else, you could feel it in your bones. This day she was in some kind of state.
She stood tap-tapping her toe against a rock, muttering something under her breath. You could see by the rise and fall in her chest. She was scared. You could see that in the random flashes in her eyes. She liked her lip to taste the trace of sweat in her pores, she wrung her hands.
I wasn't the one who approached her first. Orwin the owl, perhaps, but that's water under the car at this point. I knew that this one, while no pro, had the knowhow to cast quite a spell on our kind, if she dreamed to. She had something to teach each of us and I was certain this was a test.
Owl, the poet that he is, smoothed his way up in the rear - hey, get your human mind out of the concrete jungle. He flew up from behind, perched himself on a branch just out of reach of the mad woman-beast and hoped that it wouldn't end too badly.
Silence. Muttering. Breathing. Muttering. Silence.
"Madam. Please," Owl.
Handbag flies in owl's direction. He races out of the way, faster, mind you, that owl's typical pace. This has cost him some unscheduled exercise. Owl, sore from the commotion, bows out and I step up, strike a non-threatening pose. I felt as if I'd died and my body started to atrophy before she finally acknowledged I was there.
"I didn't send for you, and I know he didn't send you." Pause.
"I'm not of your subhuman waste caste, I don't belong to your coast, holding your shore. I am a woodsman."
"Amara, I know nothing of this. I know nothing of you, really. Name's Nautical. Hi."
"Hi. What do you want?"
"I couldn't help noticing you standing here, and at any rate, I wanted to make sure I couldn't offer you any help. Even if it's only tea and a treat? It always helps me cope with stress, which it looks like you're in."
"Hmm. I see."
"Now, I'm no creep, madam, if you have to stay, you can have your own cot, you can bring your - erm - pet. There's a great patch of grass that he could munch on."
"Shall we make a pact then?"
And just like that, she hurled my body up into the air and threw me into the trees. I'm no expert, but I'm sure this moment was on par with the most beautiful of miracles. She embraced my head with her arms which suddenly were covered in tats, etched into her milky skin. We kissed for what felt like an hour, but who's keeping score? No stats. No manipulation. She brought me to the top. I was in heaven. But nothing lasts forever.
What I assumed was the next morning but learned soon after was 43 days later, I awoke, wrapped in tape and ace bandages, tarred and feathered, on the bank of the river under the bridge to Kalamazonda. It took me years to find my way back here.
Chicago-born citizen of the globe, rich in the things that really matter. Let's get weird.