She came out of nowhere it seemed—but isn’t that how it always is?
One minute David and I were driving along talking about miso soup and the benefits of organic farming, or maybe pondering some philosophical question like, “Is it easier to change direction—or to simply forget where one has been?”
The next thing we knew we were upside down on the grass on the opposite side of the road.
A woman had run a stop sign with her beater Ford Galaxy and had plowed right into us. Her car hit our right rear wheel so hard that it pushed the car all the way to the curb on the opposite side of the road. The impact with the curb flipped the car upside down.
The Toyota Corolla wagon’s roof was pretty much crushed flat on the dashboard and steering wheel, leaving the only route of exit out through the popped out rear window. David, being a little claustrophobic, wanted no part of hanging out in the upside down car and neither did I. We made our way out of the car crawling between the seats and through the broken glass on the roof of the car. Ducking under the top of the back seat, I whacked my knee on the dome light. The smell of dripping gas, tire rubber and spilled coffee was in the air.
One day the King called his son, the Prince, to his bedside.
“Son,” said the King, “As you know I am dying and soon all of the kingdom will be yours. But first you must find a Princess and marry her.”
As a side note, the Prince was a pretty bright fellow and he considered the possibility that by strict interpretation of the King’s words, one might think that if the prince never married the King would never die.
The Prince knew this would be no easy task, as he had already turned down several options the King had suggested to him. The Prince wanted to make up his own mind. In the past there would have been no question. If the King had said you will marry this Princess or that Princess—even if she did have a wart on her nose as big as the back forty—you would have simply obeyed. But these were different times.
It was winter underground.
The activities of many of the inhabitants of the underworld slowed down—and some slept. Those that could survive being frozen solid slept the deepest, but those that could dig themselves below the frozen ground barely slept at all. The earthworms were among those that chose to dig deep.
Annie (short for Annelida) was an earthworm and to her the whole idea of freezing solid was out of the question.
When Shelley started across the Deadly Black Wasteland toward Mud Pond, she thought she had plenty of daylight left to get to the other side. She knew there would be a bright half-moon coming up to light the way if it took longer than she anticipated. She had summoned all her courage and was ready.
Stories about the Deadly Black Wasteland were endless. All the families she knew had horrific stories of loved ones starting across and never returning—or returning maimed or emotionally scarred. Being totally out in the open and totally vulnerable to all manner of dangers was very risky even for the most physically fit and fearless. There were hawks and owls to worry about as well as beasts that had no wings or fangs. Even without wings those beasts were incredibly fast. Turtle language had no word for how fast these creatures were, and except for the noise and the fierce wind they made when they went by they were almost invisible. They were the scariest beasts of all because they seemed to have no interest in hunting for food like a normal enemy, and seemed to kill and maim with no interest at all.
Trains come and go.
When the conductor says “last call,” all travelers had better be on board. But today’s travelers will get a bit of a break. The train will not be leaving the station until the conductor himself verifies that the last person is actually on board. There is no “schedule” that the train must keep.
It is raining and the engine is sitting on the tracks trembling like a wet puppy. Its sheer weight and size speaks of a power and a strength that can be felt, heard and smelled—as well as seen. There is no question—the great engine will be able to do all that is asked of it.
This train has been waiting to leave the station for a long time and today is the day—just as soon as the last seat gets filled.