work to do, part 2 of 4

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“Where are we going?”

Dahlia’s question was little more than a whisper.  For its size, the snake-like creature had an unsettling soft voice, sometimes hissing, sometimes purring.  The creature never seemed to raise its voice.  At least, Sofia had never heard it if it had.

Walking next to Dahlia, as the creature slithered through the dark tunnels, Sofia patted it gently on its head, “We’re nearly there.”

“That didn’t answer my question,” Dahlia replied, with a hint of laughter.

She wasn’t sure if the laughter was a good sign or a bad, but Sofia let her hand rest on Dahlia’s head rather than respond.  It wasn’t that she couldn’t trust the creature.  It had proved its loyalty in the past couple months.  Their bond had strengthened quickly and Dahlia had never attempted to break free of her control.  By all accounts they had turned into quite the formidable team.  However, Sofia didn’t think it would be wise to let the creature know all her plans.  Knowledge is power and Dahlia was already far more powerful than Sofia.  If not for the spells it was under, the one that had brought it into this world and the one that held it captive to Sofia’s whims, Dahlia could easily destroy the witch.  They both knew this. 

In time, perhaps, their bond would grow strong enough that Sofia could trust Dahlia completely.  That would only happen if Dahlia saw Sofia as a true equal, and Sofia had a lot to learn before then.  She wasn’t a novice but it takes a special depth of learning to match the knowledge of a creature that lived outside the normal confines of time.  Sofia was very interested in reaching those depths, and some of their excursions had been in search of knowledge she needed to further that effort, raiding enchanted libraries, stealing secrets from more learned mages, and so on. 

The tunnel began to climb slightly and Sofia signaled for Dahlia to stop.  She drew a rune of divination in the dirt next and spoke the word that sparked it to life.  The rune glowed red and then spun slowly in one full circle before sliding in the dirt a pace forward and slightly to the left.  There it faded from red to orange to yellow to green, pulsed three times and disappeared.  Sofia stepped to that spotted and pointed upward.

“Our target is above our heads.”

“What would you have me do?”

“There is an artifact I need,” with that she touched the snake again and sent it a mental picture of what she wanted.  “If you can take it unseen, great.  If you are seen…”

Dahlia finished the thought, “Then none shall live to speak of what they saw.”

The creature pushed its head into the soil of the tunnel roof and slithered upwards, using its powerful magic to carve through the earth without disturbing the ground itself, until the tip of its tail disappeared and Sofia couldn’t tell that it had passed at all despite knowing exactly the spot it had gone.  She closed her eyes and used her link with Dahlia to see through the creatures eyes.  She wasn’t in charge, just a passenger watching Dahlia’s progress.

Sofia felt Dahlia’s whispering voice in her head, “You don’t trust me to run this errand on my own?”

“I do trust you, I just want to see if there’s anything else that catches my fancy while you are there.”

Again the sound of something like laughter came from Dahlia.  Again, Sofia wasn’t sure if the laughter was good or bad.

work to do, part 1 of 4

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The wall split open with a sharp ripping sound and the dark creature slipped through the crack, hissing and spitting, furious at being dragged from its long slumber.  It gathered itself on the floor, coiled, and raised its head up.  Its long forked tongue tasted the air, once, twice, and then it’s violent green eyes found their target.  The witch held her ground and held the gaze of the beast she had summoned.  Then she carefully lifted her right hand aloft and snapped her fingers twice.  The monster blinked, shook its head slightly, almost a shudder but not quite, and then lowered its head back to its coiled body.

“Good,” the witch cooed.  “Very good.”

With her right hand she reached out and stroked the glittering, midnight scales.  There seemed to be twinkles of scattered light hidden beneath the surface, like thousands of stars hidden behind a veil of clouds in a moonless sky.  You didn’t know if you were really seeing the stars or if your brain just made you think you were because you knew they were supposed to be there.  She brought her right hand in front of the snakelike being’s jaws and, using all her considerable self-control to suppress a shudder, she let the snake’s tongue whip out and wrap around her wrist.

It wasn’t really a snake, of course, that was just the shape the summoned creature had chosen as it slid into this world.  It could have taken two other shapes, that of a bull or that of a falcon.  In time she would learn why it had chosen this form instead of the others but for now she needed it to taste her power and learn to trust her.  They would have time for the rest once this ritual was completed and her new pet had accepted her.

The crack in the wall began to disappear even as the snake’s tongue released her wrist.  She had passed the test.  It would submit to her command willingly. 

Smiling, she took her right hand and once again stroked the magnificent scales behind its head.  “My name is Sofia.”

In a whispering hiss, the creature replied, “I’m Dahlia.”

Sofia continued to lovingly caress the snake.  The wall sealed off.  Dahlia began to make a sound that make Sofia think of a cat purring.  It was not a natural sound to be coming from a snake, but Dahlia wasn’t a snake and wasn’t what most people would consider natural either. 

“We’re going to do great things together, Dahlia,” Sofia said.

on being nine

My dear Little Prince,

How?  How are you nine already?  That boggles my mind.  You’ve been part of our lives for going on a decade now… 

And what an adventure those years have been.  Travelling.  Learning.  Exploring. 

From figuring out all the wheeled objects, all of them, to snowboarding and surfing.  From your love of reading, often staying up later than me to just finish that one more chapter, to the speed with which you pick up new math topics.  And your love of art.  And your creativity and imagination. 

You wrote a book and gave it out as Christmas presents this past year.  At 8 years old.  I mean…  How very cool is that?

Plus, you’ve written and drawn how many comic books now?  The number keeps growing. 

This year you have just absolutely exploded with talent at all the things you attempt.  All while still being great with your two little brothers.  And getting your braces off.  And continuing to be good with your glasses.  And.  And.  And.

Really, you are a wonder.

Which just leaves me in constant awe and wondering…  What will you do next? 

I know, I know… I’m too hard on you at times.  I expect great things from you and I push you towards that, often forgetting that you are still so young.  You just act so much older than you are most of the time.  So, I’m sorry, as I tell you often, that I can be so demanding.  I’m working on it.  Just as you are working on growing and learning, and learning and growing, and here’s a little secret for you…  that never stops.  You will always be learning and growing, or you’ll be doing something wrong.

I’m not worried about that, though.  Your curiosity is insatiable.  You move from one topic to the next, following the answers of your initial questions down rabbit holes of information until you understand something, and then you move on to the next.

All these stepping stones on your way to changing the world.  You’re on your way, that’s for sure.  And you’ll get there in the end, of that I have no doubt.

Can’t wait to see what the next year brings, and then the decade after that.

Love you, kiddo.

Love,

Daddy / Matticus / The Jester

sparks

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Sparks splashed the asphalt before disappearing under my car.  It was beautiful.  A dazzling explosion of red and orange in the dark morning. 

A flash of color, of life, and then gone. 

In that instant, the ashes looked alive. They moved like tiny creatures, swirling, a spark dancing in the dark. 

It was the kind of thing I’d have loved to last longer so I could really capture the colors and movement, build a story off it, and tie it back to a song, to a memory, to something beautiful.

I didn’t enjoy it in that moment, though. 

It was anger I felt first and strongest

Who throws a cigarette out their window these days?  In fire prone country?  During a drought?

The absurdity made me furious.

on being eighteen months

My dear Littlest Prince,

How is it possible that you are eighteen months already?  And, how it is possible you are only eighteen months. 

Oh, you are just such a joy of a toddler tornado right now.  So inquisitive.  So determined to keep up with your two big brothers.  And so amazingly good at making messes faster than we can clean them up.  You dismantle a room faster than your brothers ever did, and that’s saying something.

You’ve really taken to riding your little balance bike recently.  That’s so much fun to watch you scoot along and then lift your legs and coast…  We are an active family, so it’s good you like being outside too.  Like?  Love.  You love being outside.  Often taking your shoes out of the cupboard and bringing them to us to put on, while you are still in your pajamas, and we are still eating our breakfast.  And then you throw them at us when we don’t move fast enough.  Outside.  It’s where you want to be.  I don’t blame you.

So amazing watching you grow.  You’re learning things every day.  You’re getting stronger, faster, more coordinated, and smarter every day.  And your silly little expressions.  And your goofball nature.  I’m going to miss that when you find your words and use those more and more to get what you want instead.  Though, it’s going to be fun to talk to you too and have you reply with what’s going on in that head of yours. 

You are getting ready to transition out of your  baby chair.  You are demanding more and more to have the same food that everyone else at the table has.  You are constantly studying the swirling chaos of people and cats around you and sizing it all up, figuring out where you fit in, what’s expected, and what’s acceptable.  All while dealing with more new teeth, and changing nap schedules, and big brothers that don’t always want to share what they are playing with, and parents who can’t always drop everything they are doing to help you in that moment, and, and and…  Life is so very confusing, I know.  It’s fun, too, though.  And full of adventures.

There are so many amazing adventures ahead of you. 

Can’t wait to see you tackle them all. 

I love you.

Love,

Daddy / Matticus / The Jester