The Eleventh Arm

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“It will change nothing.  I know this.  I didn’t do it out of defiance, or for justice, or even fame.  No one knows it is me.  And no one will know.  If they did, they would say it was unholy, what I’ve wrought.  They would say it was unnatural.  They would say it must be destroyed.  As it is, they are charmed at least, mildly amused, at least.  At best, they are cheered, enchanted, even inspired.  So perhaps in some way, I’ve done it for vengeance? No, that’s not right either.  No one should paint out of vengeance.  No, if you paint, you should paint out of love.”

I watched my friend sit back and take a sip.  Elna set down her cup and presented her hands to me, all eleven of them.  Continue reading

Cloaked in Clay

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They say that a sculptor doesn’t create what she sculpts.  She only reveals what is already there in the medium.  I was not finding that to be true.  Either there was nothing to be revealed in the lump of clay that sat on the workbench before me, or I didn’t have the skill that a real sculptor is supposed to have.  The skill of sight.  The skill to see what it is that is seeking to be revealed in the medium.

Come on, I thought.  Reveal yourself.

*** Continue reading

The Flight of Flea

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When he was young and heard the stories of the mythical birds and flying beasts of legend, he imagined himself as one of them.  Powerful, ferocious, graceful, wise, and heroic.  He imagined that one day, he would grow up to be like Phoenix, with its flaming wings and healing tears.  He dreamed of being like Quetzlcóatl, worshipped by the two-leggers who otherwise ruled over all other beasts.  When he heard the stories of Garuda, he was Garuda, flying the ancient gods to and fro on their quests.  The thunderbird.  The trickster raven.  The creator heron known as Benu.

He was in awe of them all.  And he wanted to learn to acquire their qualities.  Cleverness, strength, knowledge.  And wings so magnificent that all creatures great and small were gripped with awe at their sight.

But whenever he would voice such longings, he was always ridiculed, for he was so small that all who knew him called him the flea bird, and soon that became his name, “Flea.” Continue reading

The Black Dwarf Star

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Once upon a time, there was a thriving civilization living under the light of a warm yellow sun.  As eons passed, the civilization spread.  It advanced.  It regressed.  It advanced again.  It rose.  It declined.  And it rose again.  It changed, became unrecognizable from its past self.  And as the civilization did, so did the sun that burned above it and smiled down upon it.  The warm yellow sun was aging, and as it did, it grew warmer and warmer, and bigger and bigger, darker and darker, yellow to orange to red, until the smiling yellow sun became a glaring red giant. Continue reading

The Thief of All Sounds

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The quacking of a duck startled me awake.  It was more a honk actually.  The first time I heard it in the middle of the night, it was a horrific sound.  Because I couldn’t place it.  I never expected to hear a duck in the middle of the night where I live.  But we have a pool, and they like to land in the pool sometimes.

In the middle of the night, some of the sounds that are innocuous or even unnoticeable during the day trigger worry or fear.  The creak of a stair.  The weird sounds that fridges make when they’re cycling through their…cycles.  A duck honking.

The epitome of sound is music.  I lie awake and listen for it.  The chirping of crickets is the chorus of the night.  But they have some accompaniment.  The distant barking of a dog, answered by another.  Engines revving, droning or trumpeting, as cars pass by on the nearby cross street.  The sounds begin to sooth me.

I slip off into sleep.

*** Continue reading

Storyfeather Year Four

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This week’s story will be posted soon. This is the anniversary post for Storyfeather’s fourth year.

The Year of Creatures is done! That was the theme for Storyfeather Year Four (except for some straggler stories where I might have forgotten).

A huge and hearty thank you to Sanjay Patel for providing the artwork for every single story in Year Four. It was a true collaboration of storytelling. He sent me the art, then I wrote the story around it. It was challenging to write stories on topics I might not otherwise have written. It was humbling to try and write a story that did the art justice. And it was exciting to see the site looking so vibrant and badass.

Displayed above are some of my favorite images.

Thank you to everyone who read even a single story. And if you liked or commented, thank you again. Thank you for your time and interest, and for being a part of Storyfeather, especially Year Four.

I’ve written over 200 stories now. And I launched the Storyfeather podcast in October.

No one asked for these stories. No one assigned me to write them. And though I hoped to earn rewards someday if I kept at it, no one promised me any great reward (or even any small reward). I started because I have believed since I was very young that writing is my destiny. And every time I put pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, I feel, from within, the truth of that sentiment. Regardless of however a story comes out, each one proves to me that writing is part of who I am. And I’ve come to realize something else.

I’ve been doing this for four years, and I will keep doing it. That’s not just destiny. That’s love. And it’s not just any love.

That’s true love.

A lot happened in the fourth year stories. Researchers discovered something huge, ancient, and possibly mythical stirring under the Arctic permafrost. An astronaut opened a mysterious pod from an alien race that had been sending messages to humanity for centuries. An ordinary man gathered extraordinary allies to face a dragon and save his beloved. And a troubadour sang the fantastical story of how his kind came to be…

Here’s to seeing what Year Five brings.  I hope you’ll come along.

I have stories to tell you.
Nila