2730 Words

2730 words. That is all he wrote. 2730 words define his poetry and deepest thoughts. So few, yet they say so much. How can it be?

There are fewer words in an obituary, even fewer on a tombstone, summing up most of our lives. We don’t know how the person buried under the soil felt, or what they thought, or what engaged them. And when those that knew them are gone too, all is lost.

It is beyond sad so few of us leave behind any written legacy for our loved ones. A quote, a thought, a story, a remembrance, to hand down from generation to generation sharing and telling the future what the past was all about.

Each of us has a story, lived a life seen only from our perspective. We know things no one else knows, and we share only what is acceptable, easy, and gentle. The hard truth, the pain, the rage, all of those are buried as deep as a coffin, shame.

2730 words are the legacy of my son. Something to share, no matter how painful, with all those who loved him, and all those who will never meet him in this life. It was an honor to put his words together for those who will come after.

Dinner Conversation

So the husband and I were having dinner the other evening. We had a rather routine conversation for the two of us. I was wondering if any of your conversations go something like this.

We were discussing change of meaning for a particular word over the generations. When it was first used in conversation, it wasn’t considered a rude word at all. Everyone used it, but over the years it became an obscenity, especially for women to utter, or for men to use in mixed company. Then it became pretty much forbidden language for years. Slowly it came back into use, and is now used for just about every part of a sentence, except as an article. Any way, that segued into the discussion of language and its many variations, from early man up to present day. This conversation took about thirty minutes.

Then, along with dessert, we got into a discussion about how writing started. Math is an easy idea, anyone who has more than ten of something needed to know how much they had. So, a line represented so many of such a thing. But then, how did they know what lines related to which item. So, we got into a rather heated discussion about pictograph languages and symbols, or rather, which probably came first. Then we got into how that skill was passed to other generations and other groups. Was it an idea that someone showed a different culture and they adapted to fit their language, or did other cultures come about writing all on their own? That got a bit heated too, mainly because I see it as language based and the husband sees it as an offshoot of mathematics. I can see his point, but I also see a need to communicate information as tribes became cultures and cultures spread out over a geographic area.

As we finished out dessert, and were waiting for our check, we continued discussion language versus math, and how intertwined they were with the development of our modern idea of country, origin, and cultural development. Leading to the difficulty people have today of never being able to be alone. They constantly have to be in contact with someone via their phone and other devices. Which led to the idea that it would be interesting to put a modern gadget junkie in a distant accommodation without any of their go to gizmos to see how they would cope. Take them back to, oh, the early 1940’s and leave them on their own for an agreed amount of time.

About the time the check turned up, I left to use the facilities, and the husband paid the bill and said he would meet me at the car. When I came out the couple sitting behind us stopped me and asked it we were professors. I said no, not now. They said they learned more about prehistory overhearing our conversation than they ever had in class. “How do you guys know all this stuff?” They asked. I just smiled and said, “We read. A lot. About a lot.” “The lady said, “That is so weird. We just talk about the kids.” I smiled again, and made my way to the car.

To us, this was a normal dinner conversation. How is that weird, or is it?

I Love Words

Being in the middle of my first century, I have a different understanding of words and their usage than kids young enough to be my grandchildren. Sometimes it bugs me to no end when I hear kids talk in what is generally text speak slang, and I loathe reading text messages that use “UR” for “you are, or your” and the like. But, what bugs me most, is how the meaning of words are twisted around from the way I learned them.

The word ‘nice’ used to be a compliment. Now it isn’t at all. I have come to loathe the word as it is used as a dismissive, if subtle, insult. When I hear anyone under 60 use the word, it is always drawled in a tone of voice that absolutely grates on my nerves. Superlatives have to be super words now. We can’t say, “oh, that’s a lovely dress.” Now it needs to have more “oomph” when we compliment someone. We have to use words like amazing, cute, darling, smashing, hot, sexy, and always a word or phrase that invokes a meaning of thin.

I think a lot of the super superlatives are due, in part, to two generations, or more, of kids sitting in front of televisions as companies hype the products they sell to stay in business. Loud, excited, or oozing suggestions of seduction and sex, commercials overwhelm our senses with the urgent need to buy a product that will make us all beautiful, rich, popular, smell good, eat well, or any number of things. All of it is, of course, hyperbole. However, all those super Superlatives have become ingrained in our cultural brain and skip around in our verbiage. Insincere, in the deepest way, gaggles of teenage girls and middle aged women squeal and giggle at one another from the moment they meet until they finally shut up and go home. Generally, less than five minutes of meaningful conversation will take place in an hour.

I was shopping with my granddaughter last week. She is five, and very into shopping. We were standing next to a mother and daughter as they looked at clothes. Every other word was something inane. “Oh that’s cute. You will look hot in that (the kid was all of nine). That’s cool, you will rock that color.” Bella looked at me after the mother held up one particularly horrific outfit and said, loudly, “Nana, that girl is too fat for that outfit. She will look like a fat grape.” It took every bit of self control I had not to laugh. She was right. She was also not buying the babble. I was very proud of her for being both honest and straight forward in her comments. We will, however, need to work on her vocal volume a bit. The mother stomped off in a huff. The kid didn’t even pay attention to Bella. She was too busy cooing over the outfit that will make her look like a grape.

I, like, you know, hate it, when people, like, kinda, you know, never really say a full sentence without one of those, you know, like stupid phrases. I also get impatient with folks who hesitate and pause every other word, and fill in the silence with uhh, mmm, err, ahh, or any other nonsense noise. How about simply stating, “I need to think for a second before I answer that question?”

Now the Christmas season is here. Yes, I said, gasp, the C word. CHRISTMAS. I know all the history behind the X in Christmas as the symbol for Christ. Got it. Greeks, spell things weird. I also know that it is a holiday season for the Jewish and the made up one for all the ‘former slaves’ in America. And I also know that it is held during what was a Roman celebration of some god or another. However, traditionally, since the death of Christ, and the rise of protestants, Christmas has been a holy day celebration for CHRISTIANS. So, I don’t like words and phrases like holiday tree, and Xmas. I dislike people trying to secularize what is a sacred holiday for me. So the modern terms that take all the true meaning from the holy day annoy me.

With all the new technology around us, people don’t actually speak to each other very much. I know my teen texts her friends more than she every rings them on the phone and chats with them. Chat has come to mean typing furiously on the keyboard while on line with a bunch of other people. Chat rooms, a new use of an old term, are now electronic pretend places on line where a bunch of strangers type at each other and generally end up in “flame wars” over their comments. In my mind I see a vague, hazy room with a fire in the middle of the floor and people screaming at each other.

Sometimes I long for an intelligent conversation with someone who actually knows how to have a conversation. One where I speak, they listen, then they speak and I listen. A conversation using words that have more than two syllables would be good. A conversation that invokes laughter, concentration, and lightening quick thinking would be incredible.. A conversation with an adult, teen, or child that doesn’t have slang and hesitations throughout, but the proper use of complete sentences and a tendency to maintain at least a hint of a link to the original subject would make me happy. Too many of us are simply too distracted by shiny things, ringing cell phones, and movement to concentrate on a long conversation. Soon, like handwriting letters, conversation will be a lost art. Eventually, we will all communicate through the typed word, and only gesture and grunt like original cave dwellers when we actually meet in person.

Oh well, I still love words. Shakespeare, Spencer, Pope, Bronte, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Dickens, and even a few Science Fiction/ Fantasy writers use words that say what they mean and mean what they say. The words can make me laugh out loud, cry, ponder, and fill me with an overwhelming urge to write. I can only hope that future books aren’t filled with one word pages written in text speak.

New story idea

I haven’t been writing much here because I am taking wild leap and writing a story that *might* turn into something more. So here is the first few pages. Opinions welcome, but don’t be too mean!

Arelia watched as her Fool morphed into a frog, then a snake, and finally a small rodent before he regained his normal form of a twelve year old boy. She was so used to his sudden morphing that she didn’t bother to pause in her rant about the lack of freedom she suffered. Jason, her Fool, was her constant companion, his purpose was to keep her entertained and out of trouble. She knew she vexed him beyond self control when she complained, bitterly, about her fate. Hence, the constant and rapid changes taking place before her eyes. But it simply was not fair that her fate was set in such a way that she could not take a short cut, evade, or refuse the road set before her. Up until her naming day last week, she could dismiss the fate as something in the far distance. However, she was now 16 summers old, and her naming day was the final day of freedom.

Arelia knew she was spoiled, and as far as spoiled princesses go, she wasn’t all that bad. Although, she did have a temper, and she had a wicked way of saying things that were cutting when she was angry. The entire country knew she could easily provoke a Holy One to lose its temper with her antics. It was not, as she often pointed out to the long suffering Fool, her fault people kept annoying her with nonsense and boring court functions. After all, a princess should have some control over her own choices.

She was still fuming and stomping back and forth across the stone floor of her bower when Fool got himself back under control. The creature he morphed into often reflected his thoughts. The frog was his inner fear that he would be stuck with Arelia forever, while the snake represented his disgust with the powers that made his fate twine with hers, and the rodent was the not so subtle refection of his feelings about the entire creepiness of the fawning members of the court. Nonetheless, Fool had heard the entire diatribe because when he morphed he didn’t the lose senses of his humanity.

As he watched Arelia work herself into a fine tizzy, he pulled his smock and trews back on, and began to search for his shoes. The most embarrassing thing about uncontrolled morphing was the sudden loss of clothing. Fortunately, his small clothes seemed to morph along with his body, but standing around in his under wear whilst searching for his clothes did leave him feeling rather at a loss for decorum. Being trapped in the body of a twelve year old boy, when he was really a man long grown also rankled. No one, not one single person in the Keep paid any attention to anything he said. As long as he was doing his job of Fool, they ignored him, or, in the case of a few of the young men, shoved him aside in contempt.

Arelia wound down from her snit eventually. Thankfully, for Fool, it was in time for him to prepare for the evening. There were more visitors and suiters than normal since the princess had just passed her naming day. The suitors were more underfoot than a starving hound. Every time he turned a corner, yet another swain was leaning against the wall in feigned lethargy with mooning eyes. When they saw it was only Fool, the pose would disappear until they thought they heard the light footsteps of the newly minted woman of the Keep. It was all Fool could do not to morph at their ridiculous behavior as it irked him beyond measure.

The Lord sat at the head table with his Queen and retinue laughing with the fathers of the young Lords. Although the atmosphere was jovial, the undercurrent clearly stated the seriousness of the courting at hand. Arelia was their only daughter, and the Lord and his Lady planned to make sure they got every bit of gold that she was worth. And she was worth a great deal since she would inherit the title of Queen and all the holdings as was the custom in Balewicks. The object of discussion spent the evening trying to escape the clutches of the suitors and their unwanted attention. She eventually settled between Fool and her childhood Nurse to maintain a measure of safety. Still seething about the news that she was supposed to choose one of the pimply faced, obnoxious twits as a husband, Arelia made no attempt to pay attention to any of them. She knew her father and mother would expect an announcement by week’s end, and her fertile mind went round and round, doing its best to find a way to stop the inevitable nightmare of being married to someone she barely knew and certainly did not love. Her mother told her that love would come after the marriage, or at least mutual respect, but a future Queen had no right to expect to actually marry for love. In her heart Arelia knew her mother had to be wrong. She had to be. Before she gave into her despair or temper, she prodded Fool and told him to do something to distract her.

Fool had just downed the last of the meat on his trencher, he took a deep drink of his ale, climbed on the table. Thinking furiously, he tuned his small harp and began to sing a drinking song that soon had the people in the hall bellowing the chorus at the top of their lungs. As ladies were present, it wasn’t all that bawdy, but the men appreciated the meaning. Fool wasn’t all that great a singer, but he knew a great number of tunes and twiddles with which to entertain the folks around him. And if that failed to do the job, he could always morph and mock, or mock and morph as the case may be. All the while the music and song was going on, Fool was watching those around him with a sharp eye. He felt, in his deepest bones, that something was not quite right. Shifting from the drinking song into a ballad, he exaggerated the love song with longing sighs and batting eyelids, mocking the very thing that the song spoke of. The longer evening went on, the more dissonance Fool felt, as if there was a string out of tune just enough to irritated the ears of the player. Still, he could not lay his eyes or his fingers on the dissonance.

The more the men drank, the louder they sang. Eventually, the ladies withdrew, and the men began to sing truly bawdy songs from days of marching armies when men had only a bottle of spirits to keep him warm late at night. Fool played until his fingers hurt, and then he played even longer until the men began to fall asleep in the great hall. Wrapping themselves in their cloaks, they simply rolled up against the wall and began to snore. A few of the lucky ones found a dog or a willing maid to curl up next to them, and even fewer found a place near the great fireplace to help them stay warm.

Fool quietly jumped down from the table and headed up to his usual spot outside Arelia’s chamber door. Placing his foot on the stair, he heard a muffled squeal and a loud thump followed by more muffled speech. There was the trouble he’d been waiting for all night. Off he went at a dead run, forgetting that he was supposed to be the clumsy Fool. On the landing he heard a slam against the door to Arelia’s chamber. As his hand touched the latch, the door flew open and a young princeling flew out and dashed up against the opposite wall. Giving Fool the most peculiar look, he slowly slid down in a heap on the floor. Dreading what he would see, Fool inwardly braced himself as he turned back to the door.

Arelia stood in the doorway, hair standing on end like a mad cat, hands clinched into fists, and a rage filled countenance that would frighten the most stalwart of men. “He . . . that little . . . he tried to kiss me!” She scrubbed her hand over her mouth then spit at the limp body. “Is he dead? I hope to the Holy Ones that he is dead!” Arelia suddenly realized she was standing in the corridor in her night dress as she grabbed Fool and hissed at him to get inside before anyone else came along. “Do you not think,” he ventured carefully, “that we should make sure he is not dead?” She gave him a withering look, shoved him inside and slammed the door.