Returning to Riversleigh

The Skink stuck his head up out of the flap on my big brown backpack and commented, “You know, the last time we went on a trip, it was that useless journey to find She Wolf.”

I jumped at the sound of the voice so close to my ear. “How did you get in there?” I grumbled. He certainly hadn’t been in there when I had jammed the bag full…come to think of it, how could he fit? I had stuffed the bag to bursting.

I felt the weight shift as he climbed out of the bag to sit on my shoulder. “Just arrived. But not a minute too soon – someone has to keep that nasty earwig-inner critic of yours in check. And his tin is in the bag, I see. No,” he continued as I drew a breath to protest his last statement, “I know you didn’t pack him on purpose. He just shows up. Anyway, I’ve actually been tracking your progress for days, waiting for you to get this far. And don’t change the subject. What about that journey? Why haven’t you been in touch since?”

I grunted.

The Skink was not going to let me get away that. One twiggy finger poked me in the side of the neck.

“Ow! Okay!” I thought for a minute. “One, the She Wolf was inside of me all along. I had merged my creative side with the rest of me, and I thought it would be okay. And for a while it was. But eventually, the everyday worries and just general junk of life buried her, and she got lost. Two – she is the creative side of me, but she’s not my muse. I’ve learned that.”

The Skink smirked. I couldn’t see him, but I knew he was smirking. “Yes, go on….”

I sighed. No getting out of this one. “You are. You’re my muse. Or one of them, anyway.”

The weight on my shoulder shifted again as the Skink somersaulted through the air and into a pile of snow in front of me. I had to stop suddenly or trip over him, and ended up windmilling my arms to keep my balance on the ice. “Geeze, cut that out! You’re worse than the dogs! What are you trying to do, make me fall on my face?”

He snickered. “That wasn’t what you almost fell on. No, I’m just jumping for joy that you finally admitted it. She Wolf is part of you. Oh, and I’m one of your muses. It might make things easier if you remember this.”

“Maybe.” I acknowledged.

“You’re going back to Riversleigh, where it all started.”

I nodded. “Anastasia Riversleigh has opened it back up, while her sister, Lady Sybil, isn’t  in residence. It seemed like the right thing to do, to go back to where it started, and try to get my feet under me again.”

“You want to find what you found before, and you want to figure out how to hang on to it this time.”

I nodded again.

“You know that your creative side is inside you.”

“Yes. Look, Skink, I know all this. Just….come on. Let’s go. It’s cold out here, and I really need to get back to Riversleigh.” I could feel the longing in my very bones as I reached down for him. “You can ride on my shoulder if you promise not to poke me in the neck again. Your fingers are pointy and they hurt.”

“Of course they do. They’re made of sticks. And as long as you don’t get obstinate about answering me again, I won’t poke you.”

Well, that was going to have to be the compromise. With the little fellow – who really did look like a bundle of sticks in a doublet – on my shoulder, we set off for Riversleigh.

The first time I came to Riversleigh, I came via a labyrinth. This time, I simply set off down the road and stepped around a corner. Riversleigh is sneaky like that, turning up just when you don’t expect it. One minute I was in the ice and below zero wind chills of home, and the next I was in my idea of paradise.

I hurried my steps, and no more than half an hour later, the Skink and I were at the Door to my ground-floor room. It hadn’t changed; I had had a replica of the Door in one of my first stories installed in the door frame when I came, years ago. So we faced the green, arched door with its carvings and stained glass and doorknob surrounded by dragons, and I just stood there, remembering the day it came into being in my imagination.

Finally the Skink sighed. “Just open it, would you? I have things I want to do, and I want to see you settled first.”

“Fine.” I rolled my eyes. He was worse than my kids.

I opened the door, and the expected unused, musty odor did not roll out. Instead, it smelled like lilacs in full bloom. I stepped in.

The furniture had dust covers on it, but the windows were open to the garden just outside. It was that same miraculous Riversleigh garden, where all the flowers bloom all the time. I stepped to the window and breathed deeply, closing my eyes.

I opened them again when the Skink suddenly jumped up on my shoulder and started bouncing. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he squeaked, “but I have to go. I see an old friend!” He tumbled off my shoulder and through the window.

I didn’t see anything, but he was definitely scurrying toward something. I blinked and looked again and then I saw him. The Butterfly Man, who had been there to greet me on my first day at Riversleigh the first time I was there, was once again in the garden. He was bending down to greet the Skink. They both looked back at me and waved. Then the Butterfly Man dissolved into a swirl of butterflies, and the Skink disappeared into the cloud of wings. I smiled. I wasn’t worried. They’d both be back when I needed them.

I took the dust covers off the furniture – the comfy chair and footstool, the writing desk and stuffed bookshelves, and the big soft bed. I unpacked my clothes, my knitting, my writing things and the electronic gadgets I don’t leave home without because I am a complete geek. (I don’t know how it all fit, really, much less with room for the Skink to climb into the bag, too.) I did find the little round, flat mint tin that my inner critic always arrives in, just as the Skink had said, and I knew I hadn’t packed it. I tossed the thing in the garbage, realizing full well that it would probably reappear when I least wanted it to.

Finally I settled down with some knitting to stare at the colors of the garden in the sunset and to try and reconnect with the frightened, overwhelmed She Wolf buried inside of me.

Posted in Return to Riversleigh, Wolf Dreams | 5 Comments

My new novella, The Door, is now available on Amazon.My new novella, The Door, is now available on Amazon, for only $.99.

Follow the adventures of Liz and her friends Jon and Rob as they get drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery surrounding a marvelous door that Liz has spied on a walk. The door is bright green, covered with intricate carvings, and has dragons carved around the doorknob – dragons that move if you take your eyes away for a few seconds.

Danger, magic and mystery await the three – things that will change the way they look at the world forever!

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Motley

The Challenge:

Now, there’s a question that is worth at least a few words. What, per
your imagination, is the Jester wearing?
Does the
capering figure wear a hat? Of what kind? What color? What little
oddments and endments hang about it?
The torso is garbed in…really?
And the legs, those dancing knees and quivering calfs? What covers
their nudeness?
And on the feet, what work of the shoemaker hobbles there?
Show us the jester, standing proud and loud, or dangling from the
strings of the puppetteer, but show us…

*****

The royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: “Sir Fool,
Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!”

“Hey, Jonesy! Man! What’re you doin’ here?” Scooter clapped the younger boy on the back. Ricky Jones rarely wandered into the Aces’ basement meeting room.

The young man smiled and said, “Dunno, Scooter. I just ended up here.” He shrugged and, still smiling, stuffed his hands in his pockets, looking around. “Looks like you guys are just hangin’ out. Can I stay a while? I won’t be no trouble. Mama said to get out for a while, so I did. I was lonely, so I came lookin’ for someone. Didn’t know I would find you.” Ricky had always followed around after Scooter like a puppy. The boy was only a year younger, but he was a bit, well, slow. But he was the sweetest guy you could find, and everyone looked out for him.

“Sure, man. Have some snacks. We were just celebratin’ a little bit. We’re havin’ a regular feast!” There was a crate loaded with chips, dips, cupcakes and anything else the teenagers could lay their hands on.

“Is it somebody’s birthday?” Ricky perked up. He liked cake.

“No, man, we just, well, never mind. Here, have a soda.” Scooter found himself oddly reluctant to tell Ricky, who always seemed so innocent, about the reason for the celebration.

Truck, however, had no such scruples. “We just raided the Hawks, and hit ‘em hard. They’ll be cryin’ right about now!” He mimed a few jabs with his fists and grinned.

Ricky wasn’t so innocent as Scooter thought. He knew what was going on, and looked down at his feet. Scooter looked away, knowing his cousin was unhappy about the raid.

“Aw, come on, man, it’s a good thing for us, right? We came out on top!” Truck pounded Ricky on the shoulders.

Ricky shrugged. “I don’t like it when you do raids,” he mumbled.

“Hey, man, we’re all okay. None of us got hurt!” Scooter chimed in, smiling at Ricky.

“Yeah, but the Hawks did.” Ricky’s face was set in a stubborn frown.

Scooter was a little bit ashamed, now, and took it out on Ricky. “Okay, so you tell me how you think we should all act! Hey, everyone, listen up to Ricky! He’s gonna tell us about why we shouldn’t do raids on the Hawks!”

*****

The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.

He bowed his head, and bent his knee
Upon the Monarch’s silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: “O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

Ricky took off the beat-up baseball cap he always wore, twisting it in his hands. He looked up at the group, who had fallen silent at Scooter’s pronouncement. He looked a little bit frightened, but defiant, as he stood before the group. A few titters came from some of the girls, and the guys were elbowing each other and smirking.

“Well, you shouldn’t raid each other. It’s not nice.” Ricky began. The snickers increased.

 *****

“No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool;
The rod must heal the sin: but Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

Ricky took a deep breath and began again. “My mama would have been a Hawk, ‘cause she lived over there when she was little. She met my dad, and if he’d been an Ace, they wouldn’t have had me, or Sukie, or Gerald. If they’d been fighting and raiding, it couldn’t have happened. And remember, when we was all in grade school, we was all friends.” Ricky looked up and pointed at Chuck. “You was best friends with Danny, and he’s a Hawk. And Mary Jo, your cousin, she’s going with a guy from the Hawks. I don’t see you with her anymore. I bet she’d be real excited about yours an’ Truck’s baby.”

Mary Jo looked away, hand on her slightly swollen belly. Truck looked a little bit sad.

“And Scooter, you got a cousin there, on your daddy’s side, just like I’m your cousin on your mama’s side, don’t you? Is he a Hawk? Did you hurt him, too? How come, just because you live somewhere else, you get treated like you’re bad?”

 *****

“‘T is not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
‘T is by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.

Ricky turned again, his eyes lighting on Terry. “Terry, you lived over there until a couple of years ago. How come you want to hurt the people who live there now? And Rocket, your grandpa works in that part of town. If you hurt the people that are there, you hurt his store, don’t you?” Ricky sounded a bit puzzled. “Is he mad about that? You used to go to his store all the time, didn’t you? And he gave you candy and let you push the buttons on the cash register? You can’t do that anymore, can you, if everybody over there is mad at you? I like it when my grandpa is proud of me. Don’t you like that too?”

Tiger was nursing a huge bruise on his jaw. “Who hit you, Tiger? Did you hit him first?”

 *****

“These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.

He stopped again for a moment. The room was silent now. “What if they come here and hurt you back? I don’t want you guys to get hurt, either. You’re my friends, you know. And then you might hurt them again, and they might hurt you again. And the hurtin’ keeps goin’. That’s what used to happen when me and Sukie had fights, until one day I hit her hard and made her eye black. Sukie cried, and Mama was mad, and I was sorry, but I couldn’t take it back. Mama said the best thing is just not to hit at all, and not to hurt each other. So now me and Sukie don’t hurt each other, and we like each other again.” He looked at Mary Jo. “Mary Jo, you remember.”

Mary Jo nodded. She had been over to play with Sukie that day.

 *****

“The ill-timed truth we might have kept–
Who knows
how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say–
Who knows how grandly it had rung!

Ricky looked around the room. “I like people. I don’t care where they live, as long as they treat me good. And I’ll treat them good, too. That’s what you’re supposed to do. That Golden Rule thing, that’s how we’re supposed to be. I learned it in first grade. I didn’t learn how to read or add good, but I learned that by heart.” He thrust out his jaw, head held high.

Scooter spoke up. “Ricky, this is about territory, and about pride! We defend what’s ours!” he flung out his arms triumphantly.

Ricky shook his head. “I don’t know about this territory stuff. Everybody owns the streets, don’t they? And how come you went to them to defend your territory? They didn’t come here. I don’t get it.” Ricky was genuinely puzzled about that. “If you want them to stay away from you, don’t you need to stay away from them, too?”

 *****

“Our faults no tenderness should ask.
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders — oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.

As they stood there, thinking, taking in what Ricky, the kid who couldn’t learn anything in school, said, the door burst open. “Hawks! Hawks!” The rallying cry echoed in the basement.

Knives flashed, chains studded with razor blades swung.

It was over almost before it started.

 *****

“Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!”

The room was empty now,  of almost everything. A few dusty crates, a few cardboard boxes rotting away. It hadn’t been used for years, now, not since that day. No one could bring themselves to store things in here.

Truck had died from a knife wound; his and Mary Jo’s baby had grown up not knowing her daddy. Mary Jo had tried to keep her off the streets, but it was hard for a single mom in this neighborhood. A junkie, a prostitute, the girl had not lived long. Mary Jo buried her beside her father.

Terry had lived, but bitterness had eaten him up, and he, too, died young. They had called it suicide by cop as he threatened hostages he had taken in Rocket’s grandpa’s store.

Rocket had cleaned up his act, at least. The store was his now, and he worked hard to make peace in the neighborhood.

Scooter toured around the room, remembering each of the people, each of the deaths. The Hawks had lost some people, too, and Tiger and Chuck had gone to prison over it. He didn’t know what had happened to either of them.

Behind a crate that hadn’t been moved since that day – it had had the feast on it, Scooter remembered – Scooter caught sight of something. Going closer, he saw Ricky’s cap, the one that the boy had always worn. A rusty brown stain covered exactly half of it, like some obscene jester’s motley. Scooter wondered how it had landed back there, only to be remain hidden from his eyes until now.

Ricky had been another casualty that day. As he screamed and tried to run away, a bicycle chain with razor blades on it had caught him in the throat. Sweet, innocent Ricky had died quickly, the combatants slipping in the pool of blood that grew around him. Twenty years ago, and Scooter remembered that moment as if it were yesterday.

 *****

The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
“Be merciful to me, a fool!”

Twenty years of wishing he could have it all back – especially Ricky’s life. Poor, sweet Ricky. Ricky’s mom had been heartbroken; Ricky had been her life. All those lives wasted, several generations worth, all because he was playing games with those lives. He had been the one who had called for that raid, the leader of the Aces, and the retaliation, that retaliation that upped the ante from fighting to death – the responsibility for raid and all of the subsequent misery rested on his shoulders.

From his perspective nowadays, he knew Ricky had been right. A neighborhood did not make differences between people, nor did color, gender, what church you did or didn’t go to, or anything else. People were just people, no different from other people, except to small minds.

Ricky’s mind might have been slow, but it was never small.

A tear slid down Scooter’s face; or it would have, had a ghost’s tears not been as incorporeal as the ghost itself. Twenty years he had dwelt in this limbo between worlds, twenty years regretting everything. Well, it was time now, time to stop stalling and face what was his alone to face – the consequences of his decisions.

“Lord, have mercy on me. I’ve been a fool.” he prayed as he finally faded into whatever waited for him.

Jane W. Wolfinbarger ©2013, text
The poem is “The Fool’s Prayer” by Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887)

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Sweet Dreams

Today’s prompt: You get to create a dream…or a nightmare and give it to someone. What do you create and who would you give it too?

“What’s that?” Anthony asked, hanging over the back of the chair, his short legs kicking at the back of the seat.

“Go away,” Darcy answered, trying to push him off. He had expected this, and held on tight.

“What’s a go-away?” He smirked slightly.

Darcy sighed and craned her head around to look at the face inches from hers. Anthony wasn’t going to be easy to deal with, then. “Fine. It’s not a go-away. It’s a dream.”

“A dream? How could it be a dream? Those come into your head at night.” Anthony said wisely. “You don’t make them. They just happen.”

“Well, I’m making this one.” Darcy said determinedly, and turned back around to her colored pencils and paper.

“Looks like a drawing, to me,” Anthony continued. “It’s good, though,” he added, sensing that he was treading on thin ice with his big sister.

Darcy sighed again and thought about just jumping off the chair. It would turn over on top of Anthony without her weight in the seat. Then maybe he’d leave her alone. But no, that wouldn’t be a good idea. She was trying to make a good dream, and dumping Anthony would probably cause all sorts of bad vibrations.

“It’s starting as a drawing, but I’m going to do some special stuff to make it into a dream,” she told him.

“Oh.” Anthony thought for a moment, then slid off the back of the chair. He came around and pushed in beside Darcy. “Can I help?”

Darcy started to say no, but then realized that Anthony was the best person she could think of to help. He never said things were impossible; he always believed that anyone could do anything. And he was almost always happy and cheerful. This dream was about making someone happy and cheerful. She could use all the good feelings the little fellow could generate. “Okay, but you have to do what I say,” she told him.

He agreed happily, and was soon advising her about all the nice and funny and cheerful things that could go in the drawing. She vetoed a few things that only Anthony would consider nice, like tarantulas and earthworms, but they spent a happy half-hour designing the drawing.

Finally, the picture had so much in it that they couldn’t fit any more on the page.

“Now,” said Darcy, “we do the special, magical part.”

She folded the drawing up, and gave it a big kiss and hug. She told Anthony to do the same. Then she took the folded paper and tucked in her pocket. “Come on,” she told Anthony.

Anthony trotted after his sister, curious about what would happen next. They went outside, and Darcy started to scramble up the big oak tree there. Anthony went up a little ways, but Darcy was soon too high for him, and he contented himself with watching her go higher and higher and swinging his feet in the air from astride a low branch.

Finally, Darcy stopped, straddled a limb, and took the paper out of her pocket. Unfolding it, she stuck it on a pointy twig, moving it far enough down that the wind wouldn’t pull it loose. She sat there for a few moments whispering something, then scrambled back down to where Anthony was waiting.

“Why is it up there?” he asked.

“Because it needs to up high, near Heaven, so the angels can see it. I wrote a message on it before I started the pictures, and they can read it and make the special dream,” Darcy told him.

“Oh.” Anthony thought for a minute, legs dangling from the limb. “Darcy, who is the special dream for?” He had been having so much fun making the picture with her that he hadn’t thought to ask before.

“It’s for Daddy,” she said, her voice low. “He’s all worried and sad lately, and I hear him get up at night. He needs good dreams so he can sleep better and be happier. Mama says that he worries too much about stuff he can’t fix, and gets bad dreams and wakes up. Then he can’t sleep and he’s tired and grumpy and then it all starts again the next night. I heard Mama tell Aunt Angie all about it.”

“Oh. That’s good. Maybe if he has good dreams, he’ll play with us again.”

“That’s what I thought, too. Come on, let’s go in. It’s almost dark.” Darcy led the way down the tree.

Moonlight shone on the little picture high in the oak tree. The children’s father sat in a chair by the window, looking out into the dark night that he thought echoed his dreams. He saw the full moon sailing high in the sky. It seemed to shine on the oak tree particularly brightly. He watched, fascinated, as it limned each leaf and branch. The silvery light was mesmerizing. Slowly, as his mind concentrated on the moonlight, he felt himself relax. His mind let go of the things it had been worrying over and the bad dreams plaguing it and he fell deeply, soundly asleep.

Darcy found him there when she got up in the morning, and lovingly draped her favorite blanket over him. He was smiling slightly in his sleep.

When he got up later on, he was still smiling. He even had the energy to play with Darcy and Anthony in the yard when he got home.

Later that week, Darcy and Anthony were both listening when their mother talked to Aunt Angie.

“Angie, I don’t know what caused the turn-around. It’s like a miracle. He’s sleeping, and feels so much better!”

Darcy smiled at Anthony, who grinned back. They knew. It was the good thoughts and dreams that they had drawn onto the paper; the paper high in the oak tree, that pushed out the bad dreams. It was their magic.

If you believed, you could do anything. Their Daddy had told them so.

Jane W. Wolfinbarger ©2013

Posted in The Write Time | 5 Comments

“Hey, You!”

This begins another series of prompts and challenges. It looks like a lot of fun, with a lot of different things to churn up the imagination. Stay tuned, because a couple of times a week there will be new posts here on a variety of topics. Today’s prompt: What is a mistake people often make about you?

What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. - William Shakespeare

You would think that people could remember my name. I mean, Jane isn’t exactly long or difficult to say. It may not stand out, but it doesn’t blend into the crowd of Saras and Jennifers either. It isn’t so mainstream that there is a Jane on every corner. And there are mnemonics – Tarzan and Jane? Dick and Jane? Plain Jane? Adults should be able to make at least one connection.

But my name does not seem to stick with me well. Perhaps I simply don’t look like a Jane. I will admit that I haven’t always been overly fond of my name. For years I pouted that I had not been named after my mother and her mother, Elizabeth. My mom said there were too many Elizabeths on the family as it was, what with a couple of my 17 maternal cousins also having the name. I got named after my other grandmother – her middle name.

But there must have been a mistake of some sort, because people who meet me have a terrible time remembering that my name is Jane.

The most common mistake is calling by my husband’s name, Pat. I’m not actually insulted; the nickname of Pat is gender-neutral. I am a bit miffed that apparently I don’t have my own identity, though. I mean, how hard is it to remember Jane? But people will say, “Hi Pat!” or some such, and I’m the only one there.

Sometimes I will correct them: cue the slightly pained smile, and “It’s Jane. Pat is my husband.” Sometimes, they will realize their mistake and correct themselves (with a great deal of embarrassment), while I reassure them that I am not upset, really, it happens all the time.

Maybe my name should have been Anastasia, or Lavender Rose, or Cordelia or even my paternal grandmother’s first name, which was Leila – at least that is more memorable than plain old Jane. Or perhaps they could have used that name I found on my family tree one time – Drusilla. (I’m not really sure I would like being called Drusilla, but hey, it’s sure memorable.)

Well, what about my middle name? Well, um…no. You see, when I got my paternal grandmother’s middle name for my first name, my parents decided to give me my maternal grandmother’s (the other Elizabeth’s) middle name for my middle name. It’s a lovely old Scotch-Irish family name, Waddell (pronounced with the emphasis on the dell part of the name). Which is grand if you’re not in elementary school with a bunch of wits who quickly realize they can pronounce it waddle, with the emphasis on the first syllable instead of the second. Lovely. Every elementary school girl wants to be called Waddle, right? (And I wasn’t even remotely chubby in those days.)

Maybe I could zip it up with a nickname. Jane….hmmm….Janie? That’s pretty much it. And I was never called Janie growing up, so it doesn’t feel right. And, really, I don’t think it’s any more memorable than Jane.

Maybe the problem isn’t the name Jane, maybe it’s me – I’m not memorable. Okay, the rather round lady who wears the bright pink hoodie and rides a bright green bicycle, carries a purple backpack for a purse and talks rather too loudly? Well, maybe…lack of fashion sense aside, I do tend to stick to the walls and corners rather than the center of the dance floor. But other slightly shy people get their names remembered, so what’s up with that?

I have, of course, answered to Mom, Mommy, Mama and Ma over the years, and Auntie – or Aunt – Jane. Darling, Sweetie, and, thanks to my much-loved Aunt Carolyn, Sugarfoot, have all been my monikers at one point or another. Those names I am fine with – they are all names of affection. And it’s not that I hate the name Pat; after all, I have been married to the guy for 33 years and I associate the name with someone I love dearly. It’s just not my name. It’s his, and I wish people would remember that.

But it’s late in the game for me; I’ve been named Jane all of my life, and I am used to answering to it. Or to Pat, whichever they are aiming in my direction at the time.

(c) Jane W. Wolfinbarger 2013

Posted in The Write Time, Wolf Dreams | 8 Comments

The Write-Time Day 14: Wrap-up

I have found that when I write daily, my creativity flourishes. I am more likely to write when I am already writing, so 500 words written on a challenge becomes more than a thousand words written on several projects.

The fact that we took turns providing the daily challenge kept thing interesting, since different people tended to put up different sorts of challenges. When I am looking for writing prompts for myself, I tend to be picky. Using the prompt someone else provides makes me stretch myself, and I like that.

I have enjoyed this so much that I am amazed that two weeks have gone by and the challenge is over. I will miss it.

Each day I waited eagerly to see what others had posted. Sometimes I made a point of writing my entry before I looked at theirs, and other days I looked at theirs first, to see what the prompt had inspired in them. And I enjoyed the knowledge that others would have a look at what I wrote, and perhaps leave a comment on it. We grow as writers by both writing and by listening to the feedback we get from people we respect, and a group challenge like this one speaks to both of those ideas.

I want to thank my fellow writers Anita Marie, Lori and Heather for letting me join them in this two-week challenge. I have enjoyed each and every day of it, and I hope we can do this again in the not-too-distant future.

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Day 13 Challenge: Hairy Houdini

It was official. Harry Houdini had absolutely nothing on this cunning escape artist.

Well, almost nothing. Houdini did have opposable thumbs. That lack of opposable thumbs is the only thing that has kept our Labrador retriever, Krypto, from outdoing Mr. Houdini himself.

I swear, if I had been able to look ahead, I would have named Krypto after him, instead of after Superman’s dog, especially since Krypto is afraid of almost everything.

There were incidents with his crate when he was a puppy, and mysterious escapes that no one in the house could figure out, the dog-door opening in the garage that he was single-handedly – or jawed, as the case may be, responsible for “enlarging,” and the bedroom door knob incident that just proved that if he had opposable thumbs he would be unstoppable.

But the piece de resistance was the series of escapes from our back  yard.

Now, the back yard fencing is 6-foot privacy fencing, and I checked and re-checked the area for escape holes underneath the fence, never finding any. Yet, anytime he was not let into the house when he wanted to be, Krypto would disappear from the backyard, only to show up at the front door later on, when he was good and ready. Since he has absolutely no car sense, this really worried me.

I finally narrowed down the escape options to one that seemed impossible on the surface.

The only hole in the entire fence was one more than four feet off the ground, and literally only about eight wide by ten inches high, left over from the one of the gates being moved. I knew Krypto would be able to get his head through it, but since he is a larger Lab, about 85 pounds of muscle, I could not figure out how he could be getting the rest of him through that hole, especially as far as it was off the ground. However, this was the only option left except for leaping over the fence, and while I hadn’t entirely ruled that out, I was really hoping he wasn’t jumping the fence. Making the fence taller would not be easy.

I finally caught him in the act. Sure enough, he was going through that small hole. He just jumped up and went through it – and he did it quickly. There was no scrambling for purchase, no contortions. He just slipped right through.

We patched that hole in a hurry, but for weeks he hung around that part of the fence, just hoping that hole would open up again. At least he didn’t figure out how to take the boards down.

Yet.

As I said, we should have named him Houdini.

 

 

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