You saw the Empress once, when you were still a pillow-cheeked and blossom-mouthed child. She was tall and severe, and the train of her yellow dress flowed behind her for miles and miles, a river of pure gold. You stood behind your mother and wanted to bathe yourself in that river, and the Empress turned, her crown twinkling like a cosmos of cold stars, and she looked at you. You told everyone in your village afterwards that the Empress looked at you.
It was only for a moment. Her head was briefly inclined in your direction, and then it wasn’t. She kept walking. The river of gold frothed sumptuously past for hours, until at midday a woman interrupted it. She wore a black dress that spilled from her shoulders like ink. She held a brush in one hand, and in her other she held aloft the yellow fabric, on which she wrote in decisive strokes. In her wake, the river was no longer pure, muddied by dense black columns of characters.
This episode we bring you a trio of fantasy offerings – one flash story and two poems – about things that aren’t quite what they appear to be…
Our first story is Golly, by Laura DeHaan. Laura is a healthcare practitioner in her hometown of Toronto, Ontario. She pays her bills by helping people relax and feel better, but when she writes she likes making people feel just a little awful. She has a couple stories coming out in autumn, one in Postscripts to Darkness 4 about a new kind of danger posed by an invasive species, and one in Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine involving a zombie cowboy and a talking snake. Something for everyone! Find her on Twitter and follow the bizarre travelogues of the much put-upon tourist Topher Topher.
Golly is narrated for you by Melissa Bugaj. Melissa is a proud mom of an eight-year-old boy and five-year-old girl. She is a special educator in her fourteenth year of teaching. Melissa has taught all grade levels from preschool to grade five in both general and special education. This year, however, she is taking a leap in her teaching as she enters the high school level as a Conceptual Physics teacher . She co-writes and co-produces an original children’s story podcast with her husband, Chris, called Night Light Stories. She also writes a personal blog called According to Mags, about her children’s silly antics that keep her and her readers entertained. Melissa enjoys presenting with her husband at different state conferences on the subjects of audio stories and podcasting.
Speaking of elements, our next entry is the poem An Alchemist’s Limit, by Brian Griggs. You may remember Brian and his alchemist from Episode 22, Rust. This poem was written as a result of your positive feedback to the story. Brian says he loves how the character is trying to simultaneously make sense of electron shells and organized crime.
Brian has been an educator for twelve years and has been encouraged to write fiction and poetry by his students and co-workers. He hopes his stories inspire curiosity and wonder in students of all ages. You can learn more about the Alchemist’s Guild at his website. And he’s also avid on Twitter. He’d love to hear your thoughts on the poem.
Your narrator for this poem is our very own, very hard working and very talented Graeme Dunlop. Graeme’s been busy on the narration front lately, with his latest appearance reading Tim Maughan’s Limited Edition for Starship Sofa.
This episode marks the second time Cast of Wonders has aired poetry. Our first was the excellent Eggs Under Moon from Episode 29, where three different narrators brought you their interpretation of the one poem.
This time, we decided to try something a little different. I asked the narrators of the poems to read the poem for you three different times in different interpretive styles. I agree with Barry that understanding and appreciation of poetry improves with repetition, and I’m curious to hear what you think about our new approach. Let us know on our forum!
Finally this week, Cast of Wonders is pleased to present Empires of the Red Dawn by Jack Murphy. Jack just turned 18, and this piece is his first professional sale. Congratulations, Jack! We hope to see more submissions from him in the future.
Jack says he’s not very good at biographies, so instead he gave us three individual words: “Transient, Pantheon, Objuration”. Ooo, good choices – I love it when I have to look up a new word!
Your narrator for Empires is my good friend Adam Black. Adam is a recovering neuroscience student, although he’s working hard to relapse again. He enjoys reading, bicycling, and shouting into microphones, the last of which he sometimes records. He doesn’t have a public web presence yet, which makes him sad, so he will probably change that soon.
The Little Wonders theme, “Neversus”, is by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.
Of Eggs Under Moon Elizabeth said “This poem came out of the March 1, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl, a live poetry activity that I hold monthly in The Wordsmith’s Forge. It was inspired by a prompt from Mary-Grace Ellington.”
Eggs Under Moon
by Elizabeth Barrette
The girl nearly steps on the nest
before she sees it,
throws herself back against the sand
to avoid the faint damp hollow.
She runs to the beach house,
pounds on the door, yells,
“Dragon dragon dragon dragon!”
as fast as she can draw breath. (Continue Reading…)