Saturday, February 18, 2017

Long Way Home

Slap.  Slap.  Slap.  Slap

The sound of running feet echoed across the desert.

Slap.  Slap.  Slap.  Slap.

After years of threatening to do so, Leonard’s legs finally ran away with him.  And he was suffering for it.  His bones ached, his lungs burned, and his blood beat a steady tattoo in his ears.  He glanced down at the road and groaned.  He had crossed another state line.

Leonard was annoyed with his legs; this was a most inconvenient time for them to leave.  He had deadlines to meet–appointments and obligations.  Although he felt the burden of his responsibilities, apparently his legs did not.  They didn’t seem to understand that if one is a writer, then one has to…well…write!  His legs were so unreasonable!

And yet, Leonard had to admit that they had a point.  He had grown increasingly distracted, like he was in another world.  Well, he was sometimes.  Actually, he always was, but lately the occasions that he emerged from his little cottage had diminished.  It made contact with the outside world even more challenging; it was like having to learn to speak all over again.  He groaned.  He had become so disconnected that he recently misunderstood a writing prompt from a blogger.  The blogger had asked for three-word titles; Leonard thought he was supposed to write a three-word title story.  He wrote a lovely story with a three-word title and posted it on the blogger’s website. He wondered why there were almost three hundred responses to the prompt.  Then he began reading them and realized they were all titles, not stories.  How humiliating! 

It was such a nice story, too, thought Leonard.  It really cracked me up.  All about that bull moose at Cabela’s.  I even included a picture I took at Cabela’s when I visited there with my brother.  What a shock that place was!  Stuffed animals everywhere!  I saw the lion my cousin killed in Africa mounted on one of the shelves.  Strange seeing that lion in Cabela’s–I first saw it at my cousin’s house, along with his other trophies.  The rhino was the worst; I hated seeing the stuffed rhino head.  I love rhinos.

Slap.  Slap.  Slap.  Slap.

 Why?  he thought.  Why are my legs doing this? Was Chesterton right?  Must we propitiate the barbaric god of legs with fire and wine?

A few days ago, Leonard’s arms got wind of what was happening, and they wanted a piece of the action.  They demanded that the legs stop every hour so that they could do push-ups.
Oh, Lord, no, pleaded Leonard.  Not that–I just couldn’t.

So far, the legs had refused to listen to the arms’ demands.  Leonard’s arms were not pleased, and to show their displeasure, they waved themselves about as Leonard’s legs ran.

Slap.  Slap.  Slap.  Slap.

It’s just like that play I saw–“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)”–and the scene with Ophelia, running back and forth across the stage waving her arms.  I was in Ophelia’s section of the audience, chanting “Maybe, maybe not.  Maybe, maybe not.”  I guarantee that if you say that a hundred times, you will remember Ophelia running and waving her arms.  Now that I think of it, my arms were with me at that play; that’s probably what gave them the idea.

Slap.  Slap.  Slap.  Slap.

I saw both versions of the play, one with three male leads and another with three female leads.  I wonder which version my arms preferred–or my legs, for that matter.  See, this is just the sort of thing my legs are protesting.  I never even asked!  I should have talked about the play with them.  We could have compared the two Hamlets.  I loved the female Hamlet; she reeked of sincerity and forthrightness.  Did my legs feel the same way?  Strange, but I liked the male Ophelia as much as the female one.

Slap.  Slap.  Slap.  Slap.

It bothered Leonard that he did not prefer the male Ophelia; it upset his sense of balance.  He reviewed the two performances, looking for differences between the male Ophelia and the female Ophelia. 

“Aha!” he shouted.  “I have it!”

The female Ophelia was too easily persuaded to go to that nunnery, Leonard thought.  The male Ophelia had just the right touch of resistance.  That’s probably because the guy was channeling his personal repugnance at entering a nunnery.  I don’t blame him.  Nunneries are strange places, housing fierce women.  Our fifth grade class met in the basement of the nunnery.  We were forbidden to go upstairs.  Funny.  However curious I was to see where the nuns ate, slept, and had their being, I never entertained the tiniest idea of crossing into the forbidden territory.  It was holy ground.  I had this idea that if I ever did go upstairs to the nuns’ quarters, I would be lost forever.  There are some places that even a child knows are best left alone.

Slap.  Slap.  Slap.  Slap.

Leonard wondered how long before the dawn.  He was tired of running and wanted to go home.  Suddenly Leonard could no longer feel the impact of his feet slapping against the pavement, although he could still hear the sound.  He looked down.  No wonder!  He was miles above the ground!  Somehow his feet were still running, but he himself was floating above the Earth.  A slender thread was all that held him bound to his feet.  He continued to soar upward, the thread growing thinner even as it grew longer.  He was a long way from home.

Slap.  Slap.  Slap.  Slap.

How easy would it be to break this thread?  Leonard thought.  It wouldn’t take much effort; it’s stretched so thin.  Just the slightest pull, the faintest tug, and POOF! I’m gone.  My arms and legs can go on without me…but do I really want to let them go?

Leonard floated in space for a while.  Then, with a sigh, he began to reel himself in. 

Slap.  Slap.  Slap.  Slap.

Next town–Albuquerque

Writing Prompt from Terrible Minds:

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