Another blog I follow suggested doing a topsy-turvy kind of day — do something you’ve never done before. I’m still digging the Character For An Epic Tale (C.F.A.E.T) theme that was yesterday’s prompt so today my daughter Maggie and I decided to join forces and write a cooperative story using as many of the C.F.A.E.T as we could. We make a good team, and we cooperate on a lot of things, but I don’t know that we’ve ever cooperated on a story of this magnitude. And I know for sure we’ve never done it with the help of Google Docs. But that’s what you are getting today. At least you are getting the first bit of it.
We both love to write so this short story (which is supposed to be epic anyway) runs on the long side. Here’s part one:
Constance and the Cow
It is an epic tale. I should have told it to you sooner, but I didn’t think you would believe me. You probably still wont believe me, but kindly remember, I’m just the messenger… and sometimes a story takes on a life all its own. It becomes an unwieldy hairy beast of ink on paper, dots on screen, and as a writer the best I can do is hold my breath and let it flow through me.
The first thing I should tell you about is Sweet Flower. Sweet Flower was a girl a long time ago, the daughter of an inn keeper in the town of Bowder. One day three old women, crones, came into Bowder seeking to sell herbs at the market. But the town and the market was unkind to them that day and they did not have enough money to stay at the inn. They didn’t even have enough money for a cup of porridge.
Sweet Flower’s father was a stingy, hard man when it came to business and he turned the old women away with out a cup of water or a crust of bread. But Sweet Flower had a kind heart and she snuck outside with a pitcher of milk and pocket full of golden corn muffins. “Here” she said to the old women. “I sorry it isn’t more.”
The tallest of the old women turned to her and grabbed the milk. “Your father” she hissed “should not have been so cruel to three poor wanders.”
The second tallest of the old women grabbed the muffins. “He will be punished for the way he treated us.” She croaked. “This town of Bowder should have treated us better too. They’ll pay as well.”
Suddenly Sweet Flower realized that these old women were more than just peasant beggar women, they were witches. She feared for her father, for the town and for herself. She took a step back.
The smallest of the old women reached a gnarled hand out and grabbed Sweet Flower by the arm. “But you have shown kindness so we will give you a chance to escape.”
“Escape?” cried Sweet Flower. “From WHAT?”
In a chorus the three witches hissed out her “From our revenge!”
Sweet Flower wiggled out of the third witch’s grasp “Oh, no.” and ran back toward the Inn.
“Tell no one or you will suffer as well!” They warned with an evil cackle.
As Sweet Flower gave one last terrified look over her shoulder the witches pressed in on one another and with one maniacal laugh they morphed into a giant evil blue cat.
Sweet Flower ran as fast as she could out of the village. Just as she reached the woods she met a peasant boy going up the lane. “Don’t go in!” She cried grasping him by the shoulders, “There are witches and a giant cat, and…”
The boy looked at her as if she was insane. “Yeah, well…” he said rather dumbly, “That’s all very nice, but I’ve these magic beans to sell, so, if you don’t mind letting go of me I’ll be on my way. ‘K?”
He shook off her hand and went on his way (checking that she hadn’t lifted the magic beans from his pocket.)
With the evil laugh still ringing in her ears Sweet Flower continued to run until the moon was high. An unworldly blue glow hovered over her village and occasional red and purple explosions lit up the night sky. She was nearly to the edge of the forest when she tripped on a root and struck her head on the tree trunk. As she began to loose consciousness she started to feel very strange indeed.
When Sweet Flower awoke she could only remember three things.
- Her name was Sweet Flower
- She was a COW and
- She was very fond of grass.
It was two years to the day that Jeffry the farm boy had found the golden bottomed cow grazing on one of the hills outside his village. He claimed the cow for his own. Because hey, who was going to argue, this was more of a sheep town really. He only knew what a cow looked like because of the missing cow pictures on the side of the milk cartons, and she didn’t look anything like one of those.
Jeffry had never been outside his village, which was in a low, grassy basin, at the foot of several towering hills. He had never been over those hills, although Bruno , his second oldest brother, who had once been a wrestler with the fair, told him it was ten miles from the top of one hill to the other.
He and his golden bottomed cow stuck to the clover field next to the withered old peach tree. They were at this favored spot one morning when something quite unusual happened. Jeffry had finished his sandwich. Sweet Flower was devouring a particularly lovely clump of clover — It was exactly like every other clump of clover in the field, but as it was the current one…it was obviously the best.
Both boy and cow were facing west, which was the entirely wrong direction to face to see the disruption of dust and small rock slide that occurred suddenly and explicably at the top of a hill about three miles away.
They could not, however, miss the next disruption when a second, much closer, puff of dust appeared and something crashed into Jeffry, knocking him over in a scattering of sandwich crusts and slippers.
Sweet Flower gave an unconcerned look. Then she returned to her patch of clover as a girl with the dark braid straightened up, brushed herself off and put a hand down to help Jeffry up. “I’m so terribly sorry.” She said, brushing the last of the dust off her nose. “I was in quite the rush, so I couldn’t see where I was going. “ She looked down at her toes. “Oh no my slippers!”
“What slippers?” He asked, dumbfoundedly as she began to look frantically in the clover around them.
“My slippers I need them!!”
“There’s a cobbler in the village.” He said unhelpfully.
“These are special — oh, it’s hard to explain.”
Jeffry began to search through the grass with her. “ Um — Where did you come from?”
“But that’s three countries over!” It was a place he had only heard of from Bruno, and he has suspected his brother had made it up. Castles with glass roofs and kings that rode dancing bears were just the sort of thing Bruno would say to pull a tall tale on him.
She looked up at him for a moment, “Is it really? I’m making excellent time then. I’ve only been running for three days.”
Perhaps she was mad, he decided as he spied a pink and gold shoe on a gnarled tree branch. He figured he’d best fetch it down for her. The sooner she had her shoes, the sooner she’d get going, the sooner he’d be left in peace. He was descending the tree with a cobbler’s confection of a prize in hand, wondering how she had snuck up on him so quietly, when she squealed.
“Oh excellent! Excellent! You’ve got it! Now we just need to find the other one.” He tossed it to her and she tugged it on. As she looked up to begin the search again she gasped and pointed behind him, “ Oh no!”
Sweet Flower had decided to deviate from her usual meal of clover and grass to try a bit of shoe leather. Pink and gold shoe leather to be exact. She had found she wasn’t fond of it, but had already swallowed most of the entree before judging its full distasteful manner. It had just disappeared into her mouth when the girl gasped.
“Sorry. She’s an odd eater.” Jeffry patted the cows shoulder and she nudged him affectionately with her head.
The girl groaned, “ no… oh no, no, no, no, no, no. Look I need to get out of here. They were only a bit behind me last night. I’ve already wasted too much time here.” She stared at the cow as if she could will the slipper back out of her mouth. The girl stood still just long enough unnerve Jeffry a bit further before she snapped her head as if making a decision, “ Right, well the cow is just going to have to come with me.”
“You can’t take me cow! I know she ate your shoe, but cows are worth a couple of dozen shoes. And she’s MY cow.” He held on to Sweet Flower’s collar possessively, “I won’t let her out of my sight!”
“Then you’ll have to come with us too.” Within a quick stride the girl took a hold of Sweet Flower’s collar just under where Jeffry had impulsively grabbed it.
She stepped forward and the cow moved with her. A puff of dust erupted around them and Jeffry felt himself pulled by the collar with tremendous force. A second later the dust cleared and he could see that they were now on top of the hill on the far side of the valley, and further from the village than he had ever been in his life.
to be continued…