The Darkest Forest

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.

~C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

I am alone, yet I am surrounded by the presence of a hundred trees. Their bark is rough and weathered by years, reflecting their lives and the ways in which they have endured the passing of time. I take a deep breath and inhale the smell of sweet sap and bitter leaves, attempting to fill my body with the forest’s exhaled air. Above me is a canopy of dying yellow leaves, filtering the evening sun as it washes through to reach the forest floor. Far away from the painful world—the world of senseless loss—I am at peace. Life communicates meaning within the woods. Every death is necessary; every death is a lesson in acceptance.

I lift my gaze and notice a large owl resting on a nearby branch. She watches me with caution and unfaltering attention, her black eyes dripping deep into the blue of my own. With a glance to the sky, she opens her wings to embrace the air. I watch as she soars through the trees and out of sight, eager to escape the observer below. We are the same, she and I: two separate beings, both at home within the solitude of the breathing forest.

I have never seen this owl before, but she has witnessed my presence many times. I walk across the forest floor every day, letting my mind disappear into the earth.  My energy is absorbed by the trees, becoming part of the forest itself. Pieces of myself—my fears, my loves, my dreams—are woven into the bark and branches and roots. Today, I am afraid. I have journeyed into the forest to escape, yet I am faced with the uncomfortable presence of my inner self.

I scream. My throat and eyes catch fire as my cries travel high into the air. My mind seems numb, yet I feel everything. I feel the pain of the earth, the sorrow of the land, and the suffering of the animals. Today I am manifesting this suffering within my own body. The presence of the trees cannot fill the emptiness within my being. The trees cannot replace the love I have lost to the greediness of death.

I cast my gaze downward as I journey along the path through the woods. Lost in the expansive maze of my mind, I am unaware of my surroundings. When I lift my head, I am suddenly standing face to face with a large, brown bear. She is on her hind legs, paws perched at her chest, face lit with surprise. I stare deep into her chestnut eyes and notice an expression of fear—so similar to that of my own. I have not a minute to gather my thoughts before the powerful animal turns and runs in alarm. Relief floods my body, but I can’t help but notice a subtle thought drifting through my consciousness: Come back, please save me from this pain.

That day of sorrow was long ago, but the forest still holds the story secure within its breath. My dreams are often filled with visions of this forest. When I close my tender eyes and drift into sleep, I see images of the wooded world and its inhabitants. The owl, slicing me open with her sharp stare. The bear, fleeing in fear. And myself, no less an animal of the earth—no less eager to run from the sorrows of the outside world.

*Based on a true story.



A feeling of belonging encircles my body and wraps me in a comforting embrace. I feel the warm afternoon sun casting down upon my cheeks as bright colors dance across my skin. My vision is rimmed with blue sky and the many vibrant leaves of large oaks as they change their colors to greet the season. A cool breeze washes over the forest rooftop and shakes the colors loose to fall and catch in my hair. My heart flutters and echoes within my chest as I inhale a deep breath to clear my mind. When I soften my gaze, bliss overcomes my thoughts and I look within myself to grasp at this special feeling. I am peaceful.

Her strong body moves forcefully beneath my own as she takes each heavy step. Her heart pounds rhythmically to the beat of her hooves as lungs work to accept the thick air flowing in through pulsing nostrils. I shift in the saddle, adjusting my position atop her back as she tosses her slender head to send dark curls flying. I nuzzle my hands deep within her mane to rub the silky fur in an attempt to soothe her thoughts. She gently lowers her head towards the ground and I feel our minds softening as our bodies connect. We are two separate beings moving as one.

I haven’t always belonged on my horse’s back. I haven’t always felt this blissful freedom and the ecstasy that ripples through my body when I’m in her company. My place atop this majestic being is one I’ve struggled to earn; I’ve shed tears of frustration and fought to release all expectations of how the place should feel and how easily it should be obtained. A long time ago, I was an idealist with dreams of riding effortlessly. I dreamt of sitting in that special place with perfect ease and confidence–releasing all my worries to drift away on the passing wind. A horse’s back is a more complex place than my mind could grasp. Like any language, communication between horse and rider takes time, patience, and the ability to throw your hands up and scream, “I don’t understand you!” I blamed a thousand different reasons for our struggles, and couldn’t understand why she refused to slow down, stop or listen. I failed to realize that she actually was, indeed, listening to my commands. I simply wasn’t communicating clearly. Once I learned to look within myself for that feeling of connected belonging, we synchronized and clicked into place.

“Place” is often used to describe a set location in the world that can be visited at any given time. My special place is different. This place of trust that my horse and I share is only obtainable when I look within for answers, weaving together our two minds as one. As we venture together along this secluded forest trail, hearts beating as one and four eyes scanning the distant horizon, I am overcome with gratitude. My place in our relationship has offered me an invaluable path to better understanding and trust, with an enduring commitment to this deeply treasured part of my life. The incredible seat upon the back of my horse is much more than a location I occasionally visit. It is an echoing sensation I carry deep within my heart as I journey into my world, long after I dismount the curve of her empowering body.


In memory of Krystal Luna, 1996 ~ 2017 



Pulsatilla Personality

I was a Pulsatilla baby, meaning the homeopathic remedy Pulsatilla – commonly used for treating fevers – most suited my constitution. I knew this at an early age. In fact. I knew more about homeopathy than I did about television shows or the latest trending music. This made for awkward conversation amongst fellow children, not because I was obsessed with homeopathy, but because I was captivated by the holistic healing arts and the earth. My youth wasn’t spent within a concrete jungle or stretched in front of the TV. Instead, the forest was my home and my hours of procrastination were spent studying nutrition books from cover to cover. Many people called me weird. One person in particular insisted that I was not a teenager, but in fact an eighty year old woman at heart. Deep down I knew I was neither of those things, rather I was a young individual who had grown to appreciate the power of nature and her healing abilities.

Growing up deep within the heart of nature gives one a certain respect and appreciation for the power of our earth. In contrast, living within a temperature controlled box tends to do the opposite for most people. I was fortunate enough to have been raised in the former way, surrounded by powerful seasons that brought with them a certain wisdom. I soon learned that the answers to all of mankind’s questions could be found in nature. From my studies, I came to realize that the farther humanity distanced itself from the earth, the more illness and dis-ease it would experience. This understanding was profound for me. And yet, I soon came to realize that this separation was already taking place at an extreme rate. As a result, neither mankind nor our earth has ever been sicker. The more I witnessed the suffering of both human and non-human species, the more my heart ached. In feeling this ache, I knew I needed to follow this path.

Oftentimes, I wish I could pick a less emotional path, one that doesn’t involve the serious task of healing and protecting lives. In the past, I’ve found myself contemplating the idea of pursuing acting, or art, or another form of playful creativity. Perhaps, I thought, these professions would better balance my already serious personality. I do indeed pursue these activities on occasion, however, like most of my activities, the arts are simply fun hobbies. They are not my passion or my identity, and they are most certainly not my true purpose in life. That purpose—a profound love for healing—is rooted much deeper within my heart than any other part of my being.

My appreciation for nature’s healing abilities was handed down to me by my family and nurtured by my environment. My Human mother gave me Pulsatilla remedy to cure my fevers, and my Earth mother showed me the healing properties of her herbs and energy. I was raised with a profound love for this earth and her creatures, and this love has been imbedded into my identity. Perhaps this is why I oftentimes feel weird. Perhaps this is why I cannot hold a conversation regarding mainstream media. I possess a sense of self that is rooted in connection to the earth. This sense takes many forms, but my truest purpose is to be a healer of all species—people, animals and the earth. My goals may evolve, but they will always be centered on the healing and preservation of life. This is who I am deep down and, for that reason, I carry this sense of purpose—this hot headedness— into every goal I pursue.


A Sanctuary For All

Castle Pine Ranch, Southern Oregon 

Located on 200 forested acres in the mountains of southern Oregon, Castle Pine Ranch is a rescue and sanctuary for animals, people, and the earth. Here we practice organic gardening, herbalism, natural horsemanship, and hobby farming. We are home to many species of animals including horses, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a donkey, as well as a few humans who are dedicated to preserving the peace and beauty of the land and its inhabitants.

At CPR, every season is unique and brings new wonders to behold, each animal is known by name, and every soul is treated with tender loving kindness. Days on the ranch are spent getting dirty while hiking, gardening, horseback riding, and enjoying time spent with the animals. We are honored to caretake this special piece of land and preserve it for future generations to come.

Below are some pictures of Castle Pine Ranch throughout the seasons:

The chicken barn in late December.
The horse barn after a big January snowstorm.
Finally some blue sky.
Cherry blossoms in Spring.
The view in Spring. Nature beginning to awaken and coat everything with green.
Preparing our garden for Spring planting.
Happy chickens (and ducks).
Another gorgeous sunset.
A Springtime ride through the woods.
The lower meadow, lush with grass.
Heather & Krystal, blissful in the meadow during summertime.
Double rainbow after the storm.
The veggie garden.
A beautiful sunset during feeding time.
Evening light.
The view from the very top of our mountain.
A summertime harvest of wild berries.
Autumn apple harvest.
An evening walk.
Autumn and Arabians.
The view from the horse barn, cast in Autumn’s colors.
Beautiful B’lana.
Feeding during sunset.
Our two guardian livestock dogs, Emerson & Faith.
Looking upwards towards the barn.
The view in Autumn.

Wandering England

Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to visit England. I couldn’t tell you exactly why. Maybe it’s because my family is from there, or perhaps because I adore the English weather and landscape, or because I find the English culture and customs familiar and wonderful. No matter the reason, I find myself drawn to this tiny country in ways that I cannot fully explain. I am certain that I will make England my home one day, if only for a little while.

This is a brief explanation of why I found myself wandering England only a day after leaving Spain. When I decided to leave the Camino (see my Camino de Santiago post here) I pondered where I should go next. I wanted to continue my travels through Europe, and soon found myself buying a ticket to London. I had absolutely no idea what I was planning to do once in England, I simply knew that I needed to see and experience this country that had enthralled me for so long.

As soon as my feat touched the ground, I decided to travel to the south and visit Devon, the countryside where my grandmother was from. I made my way to Exeter, a charming little university city full of cute shops and a wide river flowing through. I spent a week walking around town, sleeping in a friendly B&B and visiting markets. I honestly had no idea what I was doing there, but perhaps I needed the rest and relaxation after weeks of moving to someplace different every day. Exeter felt incredibly familiar and comfortable to me. I felt peaceful during my time there and, while I don’t know exactly what drew me to that particular city, I am still happy I visited.

After Exeter, I visited my mum’s family in Southampton. Having never before met this part of my family, I was thrilled to spend time with them. They were incredibly kind and took me into their lovely home without question. They treated me as if they had known me forever, and for that I am so grateful. One of the things I love about traveling is meeting new people and having engaging conversations. I am so happy to have met new people that were actually family. I was also able to visit the town where my grandmother was born and also learn more about her life as a young girl.

Moving forward, I travelled to London. I only had one day to spend in the city and I felt overwhelmed with the possibilities. I stayed in an Air B&B, spent some time in Neal’s Yard (a fun and hippy courtyard with lots of organic restaurants and food stores) and visited St. Paul’s Cathedral (no photos were allowed inside). But, the one thing that I desired to see more than anything, was the ancient Tower of London. No place in England has more history than the Tower which housed and executed countless royals and commoners alike. The tower has become very busy, but if you catch a quiet moment alone in an alleyway, or inside a stone staircase, you can still feel a chilling collective memory of the history within the walls. I stood on the grass that used to hold a moat. I walked on the stairs that hid the dead bodies of two young princes. I saw the brilliant crown jewels, shining in all their glory. After becoming quite overwhelmed with the stories of the tower, I went outside for a peaceful moment of watching the Thames, the river that has witnessed so much history itself.

My visit to England taught me how to wander. My time spent there was a lesson in spontaneity. I had no plans. No schedule. No destination to reach. I simply walked and looked and absorbed the beauty and history of the country that has been pulling at me for years. I highly recommend this way of traveling. Grab a backpack and a one-way ticket to somewhere. Stay in one place and be a local. Take your time and enjoy being free in a brand new place.

I didn’t take many pictures while I was there. The weather was quite gray (which I loved after having experienced the intense Spanish sun for two weeks). Below are some of the images that captured my eye.

A victorian B&B in Exeter, Southern England.
The river running through Exeter.
A beautiful British breakfast at the Real Food Store in Exeter, Devon.
Tower Bridge overlooking the river Thames.
The Tower of London.
The wall surrounding the Tower of London.
Outside the tower of London. The grassy area used to be the moat (full of dead bodies!)
Inside the Tower of London. The history here is incredible.
St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.


The Orb


~A Short Story~

The orb was iridescent as it drifted overhead, casting rainbow rays in all directions, through the town and across the vast, open sea. Its light seemed brighter than that of the sun, or even the brilliant shining moon who sparkled with jealously overhead, and the night stars who vanished in the orb’s miraculous, glowing, presence. The wind, always curious, tried playing with the gentle, floating object, and ever so carefully attempted to push the orb in different directions. Gusts of warm air pushed the glowing sphere this way and that, scattering its brilliant light even farther across the world and high up into the distant heavens.

The young girl was the first of the many villagers to notice the orb’s presence. She lay soundly asleep in her cozy wool bed. Wrapped in warm cashmere blankets, her dreams were that of fairy dust and newborn kittens, and she wished not to wake until morning’s first announcing rays of light. But, the luminous orb floated past her tiny, stained window and filled her room with its radiating light. She awoke with a start and watched in wonder as the object drifted effortlessly through the air, barely stopping to take a hurried peek inside her window before moving onward through the village.

The girl woke her Mother and Father, who rested peacefully in their own wooly beds, pleasantly dreaming their own perfect dreams. Father was amid a large field of corn, a field that he planted and grew all by himself. He admired his corn with immense pride and satisfaction before finally biting into his first, juicy ear. Mother sat in the middle of piles and piles of freshly spun cashmere yarn. She was to knit her precious children the most perfect, luxurious sweaters the world had ever seen. They would rival those of any other spinner and keep her little darlings warm all winter long. But, Mother and Father’s peaceful dreams were soon disturbed by the gentle nudge given by their tiny daughter. She stood beside their bed, shoulders wrapped in her cozy blanket clutching her protective teddy who was placed to keep her safe and sound during the long, cold nights. The girl’s eyes were tired with concern as she poked her parent’s cheeks and pulled their chilly ears. Just before she decided to resort to more forceful forms of rousing, her parents finally pulled themselves from their welcoming dreams and crawled from their toasty beds.

The Father picked the girl up as they walked outside into the chilly, night air.

“Nothing but a nightmare, dear lass.” He cooed to his gentle child as they surveyed the horizon for the mysterious, floating orb. Mother, unable to completely abandon her dreaming bliss and wrapped in her own bed sheets, joined her husband and daughter out in the streets of their quiet village. She yawned softly, and gently rubbed her eyes to better observe her surroundings.

“Dear sweet thing,” she whispered to her daughter, “it was nothing but a strange dream, a visit from the past entering your little mind and presenting you with curious images. We are all alone in our village, don’t you see, my child.” But the young girl refused to believe her Mother’s words. She knew what she had witnessed was true and real, and she continued to look out over her Father’s protective shoulders for a glimpse of the extraordinary object.

The rather disturbed, yet warmly wrapped family was about to venture back inside their tiny home, when they finally saw the outstanding, rainbow light cascading delicately over the North rooftops of their tiny village. The Father, who was strong and brave, and now convinced of the orb’s mysterious presence, ventured first to where the amazing light was emerging from. He held his darling daughter firmly in his arms, and walked slowly to support her Mother by his side. But, he did not remove his mighty gaze from the center of the village and its curious contents. When they turned the North corner and entered the tiny, village square, Mother, Father, and child were greeted by the many familiar faces of their fellow villagers. Young and old, strong and frail, every single soul wrapped warmly in their own wooly blankets and bed sheets, and every single gaze cast upward toward the iridescent orb. They stood in fixed wonder as the brilliant object floated effortlessly overhead, gently swaying in the chilly midnight wind. One of the brave villagers tried to touch the object by reaching out a shaky hand in the direction of the light. But, the orb was far higher in the night air and closer to the heavens than expected, and the villager’s hand returned untouched by the rays.

Time seemed to stand perfectly still in the tiny, glowing village. The moon, stars, and sun all waited patiently while the orb transfixed the villagers with its beauty, and caused the village to sparkle like shards of rainbow stained glass. Finally, just before dawn, as the troubled moon began to set into the tapestry of the night sky, and the morning sun prepared to rise above her world, the glowing orb finally left the tiny village and its perplexed villagers. It rose high into the sky, higher and higher until it finally bumped into the top of the heavens and burst into a million, sparkling pieces. The young girl, who still stood with her Mother and Father and watched the orb’s movement, was overcome with the complete and absolute sense of hope. Hope for what, she could not yet understand, but she knew that the promising feeling was there, within her village, seeping through the stone walls of every tiny house in sight. And, when she finally returned to her cozy, wooly bed, and hugged her teddy bear tightly with immense warmth and love, she could still feel the strong sense of hope. It lingered on her being, stayed nestled in her curly hair, and continued to fill her soul long after morning sun overcame the quiet world.

 The End


 “They stood in fixed wonder as the brilliant object floated effortlessly overhead, gently swaying in the chilly midnight wind.”

The Eyes of the Forest (a short story about security)

Henry was lost. Or at least, as lost as he’d ever been in his short life. The young lad had never been lost before, and it was an experience that took him quite by surprise. It was a strange feeling; the unknowing of one’s surroundings, the complete and utter vulnerability to the vast and distant world, the lack of understanding towards which way was home, and Henry allowed the feeling to completely overwhelm him in every possible way.

The youthful lad was standing in the middle of a large oak forest. He had somehow found his way to a tiny clearing, something like a fairy meadow, and was staring up at the impeccably blue sky. Afternoon sunlight was streaming down through the moss-covered oaks, illuminating the dewy leaves and making each and every tree sparkle with iridescent light. It was a beautiful afternoon, a perfect day for an afternoon walk, but it was also a very easy opportunity to become quite horribly lost. And, although the birds were singing and the trees groaned under the weight of their heavy leaves, Henry’s ears listened only for the sounds of his tiny village; church bells ringing, children laughing, horses hooves and noisy automobiles making their way through the winding streets. But, none of these familiar noises met young Henry’s ears, and he was reminded yet again that he was all alone and most likely very far from home. As the sun that rested high overhead began to slowly set into the West, Henry suddenly remembered his Mother’s advise.

“Alright,” the lad thought to himself, “if the sun is setting into the west, then I am standing to the east, which means the village is…” he removed his cap and scratched his curly brown locks. “Oh dear!” He kicked the dirt and slumped solemnly onto a moss-covered rock, angrily contemplating the fact that his Mother had never told him the direction of their tiny village. “Dear, dear Mother.” Henry thought, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips, “With her tidy apron and crazy curls, she’s probably home making honey bread and fig jam, completely unaware of the fact that her only son is hopelessly lost with nothing to eat.” Henry’s stomach made a slight, pleading noise, and the boy sighed deeply into his boots, hoping to fill his belly with some of the overwhelming emotions that were crowding his brain.

Back home, in the kitchen of a tiny stone cottage surrounded by vetch and moss and ivy, an elderly plump woman stood at her evenly floured countertop. She rolled away at a fresh batch of yeasty bread and hummed quietly, all the while staring out towards the horizon that stretched above the vast, oak forest.

“Henry should be getting home by now,” she thought to herself. “I hope he hasn’t gone wandering through the blackberry bushes again, it took me too many long days and nights removing those awful stains from his trousers. How he found his way into the blackberries, I have no clue. Why, that boy of mine could get himself lost if he were alone in his own house! As soon as he arrives home I’m strapping a sash of bells around his waste and leaving it there until his brains grow in!” Henry’s Mother pounded fiercely at her dough and went back to humming a merry tune about thistles and kittens and fresh berry pies, unaware of the rapidly setting autumn sun.

Burrs were sticking to the wooly hairs of Henry’s socks as he made his was through the changing forest, and tiny, hungry bugs tried nibbling on his ears, every so gently so that he wouldn’t notice. The lad was hungry and tired, and utterly unaware of the many curious eyes that started down upon him from the high treetops. The Eyes absorbed everything about the boy, from his curly hair to his anxious mannerisms; they could tell that he was lost, hopelessly lost and all alone in their woods. The smells from his clothes drifted up into the trees where the Eyes waited, oh how delicious the smells were! The boy carried the scent of honeyed bread and sugary fig jam, and the slight smell of gooey, overripe blackberries lingered on his trousers. But, the Eyes could tell that the boy carried none of these appetizing ingredients along with him, he was all alone without a nibble of food or ounce of sugar to sustain him through the darkening woods. If the Eyes assumed correctly, a warm and hearty feast awaited the young lad back home, all he needed was a nudge in the right direction.

Henry’s Mother had just removed the meat stew from the hearth and flipped the very last of her buttermilk pancakes, when a very loud and hollow knock hit the tiny oak door. She quickly covered her cooling cakes, wiped her floury palms upon her apron, and rushed to answer the call. When she opened the door, there stood the young boy all covered with leaves and dirt, and a great many tiny burrs that clung to his wooly socks.

“There you are!” She hollered, “I was beginning to think you’d never return to me, that you’d leave me here all alone, with a dirty house to clean and meals to cook, and that slobbery dog to constantly watch after. Where do you think you’re returning from at such an ungodly hour?” Henry blushed and wiped his runny nose with the back of his hand.

“I’m sorry Mother,” he said shakily, “I was lost, in the forest, but I’m okay now! I don’t know how I found my way back home, it was getting dark and these luminescent lights appeared, like eyes that were glowing in the shadows! I followed them, Mother. I followed them all the way back to out village, and now I’m home, I thought I’d never find my way.” Henry’s Mother rolled her tired eyes and took a deep sigh, inhaling the chilly night air.

“Well,” she said, “Dinner is growing cold, and I’ve a lot of work for you to finish before you can go to bed. It’ll teach you a mighty lesson for letting your poor old Mother worry like I did, I almost had to call the dogs on you boy!” And with that, she swept the tired lad into the kitchen like a pile of dirty brush, closing the door to the outside world and its impending darkness.

That night, the tiny stone cottage echoed with the heavy snores of sleepers, cold winds tugged at the tightly shuttered windows, and a strong fire roared within the hearth, refusing to die and illuminating the kitchen with its golden light. Poor Henry, too tired to continue his sweeping of the cobblestones, had fallen fast asleep before the stove and was now curled soundly on the cold and impeccably clean floors. Mother had taken the cat up to bed, falling asleep upon her mattress before even removing the floured apron that gently squeezed her torso. The cottage filled with the sounds of nightfall; crickets chirped within the ivy, birds cooed softly in the nests among the rafters, tiny mice ventured out of their hiding places to search for fallen crumbs that the boy might have missed while sweeping. But, not a single soul noticed the glowing eyes that peered curiously in though the windows. They had been watching all evening, staring at the delicious dinner table and waiting for the young boy to finally fall asleep. He was snoring now, and the Eyes knew that their opportunity had come to sneak the rest of the honeyed bread, mouthwatering fig jam, meat stew and buttermilk cakes that waited patiently by the flickering hearth. The Eyes slowly began to unlock the solid shutters that locked out the cold and distant night. The smells of the cozy cottage filled their senses and overwhelmed their bellies, and the Eyes grew greedier with each nearing step towards the hearth.

Henry awoke with a start. The slobbery mutt, Otis was standing upon the countertops and   barking ferociously at the window leading out into the shadowy night. Mother came rushing down the staircase; she was still dressed in her cooking apron and held their marmalade feline tightly in her chubby arms.

“Heavens!” She cried. “What in God’s name is going on down here? Otis! Get your muddy paws off my countertops this very instant!” Otis licked his chops and sauntered down from his position atop the counter, he quickly trotted towards the doorway and scratched wildly at the wood.

“Whatever has gotten into you dog?” Cried Mother. Henry, who was still lingering amongst the pleasant dreams he was experiencing, rubbed his tired eyes and looked out through the foggy windows and into the distant darkness. Mother placed her frazzled feline down upon the countertops and joined the young lad, staring out into the black and quite night. The air was still and the trees lay asleep, indifferent to the unexpected commotion of the tiny cottage. They didn’t see the warmly wrapped, sleepy figures staring out of the kitchen window, nor did they see the many glowing eyes that quickly ran away from the cottage, through the village, and back into the vast and distant forest.

The End

The Hotel

~A Short Story~

Danny had been previously unaware of the many flights of stairs that they would have to climb to reach their room. The hotel hadn’t advertised the massive, spiraling steps that dominated the center hall, nor had they mentioned that most, if not all of the rooms were located at the top of the enormous, carved oak staircase. Danny peered upwards towards the immense darkness in which the stairs disappeared. He imagined the climb to the suite, long and steep through the thick, stale air. Carrying Pansy’s many hat boxes and shoe boxes, and boxes stuffed full of silken scarves and colorful gloves. He cringed, and forcefully rubbed the temples of his head to ease the prominent ache. Sunshine poured into the room through the many intricate, stained glass windows and flooded the hotel’s main hall with glorious light. The many colors from the afternoon sun seemed to absorb the darkening shadows from the staircase, and Danny was finally able to turn away from the horrendous sight to engage in conversation with the young concierge, who was standing ever so quietly at the front desk, examining a paper and wiping his spectacles clean of unwanted dust. Danny cleared his throat,

“Excuse me, are you someone who could help me with a great many bags?” The concierge lifted his bushy black eyebrows at the unexpected noise. “You see,” Danny continued, “my wife engaged in some rather elaborate shopping expeditions while we were in Paris. She, um, well she has a knack for that sort of thing.” The young man behind the desk stared blankly as his customer spoke, and Danny wondered if the peculiar fellow indeed spoke any English. He tried again. “Excusez-moi, monsieur, la escalier est plutôt élaborer!” The concierge cringed, and then spoke,

“Yes sir, indeed the staircase is quite elaborate, it is the hotel’s finest attribute.” Danny frowned.

“And yet, you failed numerous times to mention any stairs in your brochures. As I just previously mentioned, my wife has a many number of heavy cases that need transporting to our room which, I am assuming is at the top of your ‘finest attribute’”. The concierge’s bushy brows retreated to their original, level position above his foggy eyes, and the young man clicked his tongue upon the roof of his mouth before answering, bluntly,

“Of course, monsieur, if you would be so kind as to show me to your many, heavy cases, I would be delighted to assist you.” Danny heaved a great sigh, letting his tight shoulders drop to a more comfortable position.

“Merci,” he breathed with relief, and proceeded to lead the curious hotel employee to where his young and fashionable wife was patiently waiting.

Pansy was overjoyed when she finally noticed her darling husband exiting the grand hall, and she perked up with a great deal of unnecessary enthusiasm when she saw the petite, scruffy young concierge strolling close behind him. Dozens of boxes were strewn across the hotel’s lobby floor, they completely covered the dusty wool rug on which Pansy so delicately stood, and a particular hatbox pushed against her tiny ankles with uncomfortable force. Pansy nudged the box gently to the side. Oh, how she adored Paris, with it’s many elaborate stores and adorable shops. She could have spent a lifetime strolling the cozy streets, collecting bags and bags of fashionable wears to bring home and show the other girls. But, Danny insisted that they leave the glorious city, their holiday was not intended to be spent simply in one location.

“Our trip must be evenly distributed throughout all of France,” Pansy could recall her husband’s words, “we must explore the unknown regions of this wonderful country! Go off the beaten path, take adventures, experience new places!” But, Pansy wandered if this dusty, old, stale-smelling hotel was truly a place worth experiencing. And, as her venturesome husband advanced towards the many scattered bags that dominated the lobby, Pansy made a silent, mental note to trust their adventure and embrace the peculiar hotel.

The staircase was indeed, rather long. The tiny concierge huffed and puffed his entire journey up the slippery steps, all the while carrying a great many awkward boxes in his weak, little arms. Pansy pranced lightly behind him, all the while examining the detailed carvings of the handrail and unhappily breathing in the thick, dusty air. She coughed.

“Steady now, my darling!” Danny called down to his fragile wife. He was climbing far in front of the trembling concierge who, greatly due to the vast number of Parisian hat boxes that he balanced atop his head, was very near the point of passing out upon the shady steps.

“Almost there!” Danny yelled down into the darkness. “I can see the light from the hallway. Yes, I believe we’ve almost made the journey!” The poor, wheezing hotel employee collapsed, out of breath, into the illuminated hallway of floor number fourteen. He heaved inward enormous breaths of heavy air, grasped at his aching chest for all that it was worth, and stared upward at the two, pleasantly glowing faces that gazed curiously down upon his pathetic body.

“You poor thing!” Pansy cooed. “Danny, darling, have you any soda in your suitcase? That was quite the climb for someone so small!” Danny simply shook his head.

“He’ll be fine, my love. Now, help me find our door! We’re room 325.” Pansy gasped.

“325! Our wedding date! Darling, it’s fate. It’s meant to be! What are the chances of us being provided with a room that’s numbered with our very own wedding date?” Danny grinned.

“I told you my dear, sometimes it’s important to simply relax and let yourself be surprised. Exploration is the key to discovery!” He exclaimed triumphantly. “Speaking of key, hand me our room key, will you dearest?” Pansy beamed, handing over the heavy, rusted metal keys to her husband with encouraged enthusiasm.

The suite was dark. Thick, chilly air spilled over the charming couple as they entered the room, and the smell of musty dust invaded their senses. Danny flicked on the overhead light. The large chandler that hung elegantly in the center of the suite flickered in surprise, as if having been startled by the rare and unexpected presence of guests. As Pansy’s dainty eyes began to adjust to the frail lighting, she could begin to make out certain objects that occupied the rather large hotel suite. A king sized bed dominated the center of the room, a vanity rested far in a back corner, thick purple curtains hung in front of the single, large window that stared down upon the approaching couple. Danny reached the window and pulled back the heavy drapery.

My, what a view!” He exclaimed, gesturing for his wife to join him. Pansy slowly made her way to her husband’s side, all the while acknowledging the thick layer of dust that rested atop the lonely vanity table. Danny opened the large windows, and a thick gust of warm Spring air spilled into the suite. He breathed in the sweet smells of the French countryside.

“Ah, at last some fresh air!” He stretched his strong arms high above his head and then enveloped his wife in a tight embrace.

“Darling,” she said, suddenly remembering, “what ever happened to that terrifically petite little man?” Danny frowned.

“You mean the concierge? Heavens! I haven’t a clue. Do you suppose that he’s still passed out atop that disastrous staircase?” Pansy gasped.

“Oh Danny, do go see, will you! I wouldn’t want the poor thing to die because of us!” Danny let loose a soft giggle.

“Always the alarmist. Don’t worry, my sweet thing. Just you wait here.” Pansy watched as her husband ventured back out into the dimly lit hallway. She was left alone in the large master suite, amongst the dusty pillows and the hideous floral bedspread, breathing in the thick air and yearning for the sites and smells that waited just outside the window. She sat down upon the bed, removing her creamy white gloves and placing them delicately in her lap. Just then, Danny burst forcefully back into the room, disturbing Pansy’s detailed inspection of the gloomy wallpaper.

“He’s dead!” Her husband wheezed. He was out of breath and in obvious discomfort, and stared down upon Pansy’s pretty face with exaggerated concern.

“He’s what?” Pansy took a deep breath in, unsure of the truth in her husband’s startling remark.

“You heard me, the concierge is dead. Stone dead. We killed the poor man, he isn’t even breathing anymore.” Pansy’s dainty hands began to shake.

“You’re sure, darling? He isn’t just, um, sleeping? Why, I’m rather tired myself from such a long climb. Maybe he just decided to take a little nap! Surely, he can’t be dead, you must be joking.” Danny leaned in closer to his wife’s face and whispered with purpose.

“No. Not sleeping. Dead.” Pansy cringed.

“We must leave this place, at once.” Her husband continued. “The police will most likely be here soon, we must leave no evidence of our being here in this ghastly hotel.” Pansy was shaking fiercely now, and she wiped the sweat from her brow with a dusty glove.

“But, where will we go? Where will we hide?” Danny gazed down upon his wife with determination.

“Paris. That is where we will go. They’ll never find us there, amongst the many crowds of people and tourists that flood the streets, especially this time of year. We’ll blend right in, that’s for sure.” Pansy couldn’t believe her husband’s words, she was ecstatic. Paris, a dream come true. Far away from the dusty walls and stale air of such a horrid and old hotel. She leaned back into the lumpy mattress, wrapped her tiny arms around her torso, and breathed in a tremendous sigh of relief.

“Pansy! Pansy! Pansy, darling, wake up!” Danny stood looking down upon his quiet wife, who had fallen soundly asleep and now rested peacefully atop the king sized bed. Her curls were still intact, makeup still firm, and gloves still curled up in the skirts of her tiny lap. It had been a long day, a long journey, a long life! And, Danny decided to simply let his wife sleep, unable to wake such a delicate creature in her perfect state of bliss. The concierge had helped carry in the many hatboxes and shoeboxes, and boxes filled with silken scarves and colorful gloves. They placed the packages down upon the dusty furniture, Danny tipped the petite concierge tremendously well, and closed the door that connected their room with the musty hallway. The husband then removed his shoes, removed his hat, and laid himself down to rest quietly beside his wife. Cool, embracing spring air poured in through the open window of room number 325, and Pansy continued to dream of her perfect Paris all throughout the night.

The End



~A Short Story~

The air was chilly as Ebony stepped out into the dark, winter’s night. She could instantly feel the cold on her face as it fed on her nose and turned her cheeks to a bright and rosy red. There was a layer of ivory snow coating the pebble walkway outside of Granny’s house; it twinkled in the falling moonlight like diamonds on a wealthy woman’s broach. Ebony dreamed of diamonds, constantly, and without remorse. She dreamed of holding them in the delicate palm of her hand, of tracing their perfectly carved figures with the tips of her fingers, of placing them ever so gently onto the base of her neck. Yes, Ebony knew that diamonds would look lovely on her long and slender neck, but they must be the most perfect diamonds, and she had yet to find the gems deserving of such a personal position.

The chilly night had been long and exhausting, and young Ebony had spent the hours surrounded by long lost family and tales of her childhood antics. She was happy to have escaped her Grandmother’s house and to finally be outside in the dark winter world, away from the warm and welcoming family that she never truly felt a part of. The snow crunched delicately as Ebony’s polished boots pressed against the walkway. She made her way past all of the pretty houses decorated lavishly in pretty Christmas lights. Past the warm windows lined with holly and mistletoe; past the cheerful families all smiling and laughing, and filling the rooms with so much cheer that it seeped out of their windows and onto the street where Ebony walked. And, although the night was deep and dark, and utterly cold for anyone who dares wander the midnight streets, Ebony stayed warm and content, for she was wrapped in her finest winter coat and wooly furs. The cold did not dare touch young Ebony’s unspoiled, slender neck. No, her neck was far too fine and pristine to be touched by anything other than the most perfect and flawless diamond.

A heavy drop of dew fell from a lamppost, and landed with a sharp chill upon Ebony’s nose. She startled, and lifted her warmly gloved hand to brush away the unwelcome wetness. It wasn’t until she had successfully dried her dainty nose and lifted her eyes once more to view the street, that she finally saw the man. Leaning against the lamppost and dressed in the finest furs she had ever seen, he was the most dignified stranger that had ever wandered Holly Street on such a late and chilly night. He wore a shiny top hat that twinkled in the moonlight; reminding Ebony of the way her diamonds might twinkle, with poise and purpose. He possessed a slick and impressive mustache that curled at the ends, as if to lead the spectator’s gaze up into his deep and bewitching eyes. Ebony smiled gracefully, and removed her gloved hand from its awkward position atop her nose. She prepared to introduce herself, but he interrupted her words. He spoke effortlessly, as if the cold had yet to touch his shadowed lips.

“Forgive me, I didn’t mean to startle you. I suppose, at such an ungodly hour it must come as quite a surprise to encounter another human amongst the cold.”

“Oh no, it’s quite alright.” Ebony said as she straightened the collar of her coat. “I’m sure you’re just as happy as I am to be so warmly bundled. Why, I hardly even feel the cold!” The stranger smiled and echoed the motion of adjusting his fancy overcoats.

“I must say,” he said with a grin, “I don’t usually venture home in the dark like this. I’m afraid my family’s dreadful holiday gathering went quite a bit longer then I expected.” Ebony gleamed.

“Oh yes, me too! I was worried that I would never escape such a horrid evening!” The stranger let a small, reserved laugh escape his lips.

“Well,” he said, “I suppose I should consider myself lucky. If it wasn’t for my unforeseen midnight stroll, I might not have encountered such a lovely lady as yourself.” Ebony’s cheeks flushed and turned to an even deeper red. She feared that the gentleman might notice and turned her head slightly to the side, away from his deepening gaze.

“Well!” he said, observing her movement, “what a perfectly pretty neck you possess! How terribly bare it is though, have you not just come from a party?” Ebony was thoroughly embarrassed. Such a gentlemen of such class was sure to notice her lack of diamonds. How could she have been so careless in revealing herself! She lifted a satin glove to cover her neck.

“Oh, well, yes, I suppose I have. You see I really haven’t found the perfect diamonds yet. I wouldn’t dare place anything but perfect diamonds upon my neck. It simply wouldn’t be right.”

“I understand.” The stranger said softly. “And I suppose there aren’t any gem shops open at such a late hour. You see, I have a talent for selecting perfect diamonds. I’ve had it all of my life. Although, I’ve never had a fine lady such as yourself to model my skill. I suppose it’s a problem I’ve had for quite some time.” Ebony gleamed, was this fine and mysterious gentleman making her an offer?

“Here is my address.” he said, handing her a silver-lined business card, “Tomorrow I will take you to find your perfect diamonds.” And, with a graceful wink he was gone. The unexpected stranger disappeared into the chilly winter night just as quickly as he arrived, leaving Ebony on the street, all alone to ponder the strange encounter.

As she continued down the hollow streets, past the houses that were now dark and asleep with smoke escaping their chimneys, suggesting a dying fire, Ebony considered the gentleman’s attractive offer.

“My very own diamonds!” she thought to herself, “All my own, to keep forever and ever! What a splendid idea, how completely grand I would feel with my perfect diamonds.” She stopped in her tracks to observe the midnight moon.

“No,” she said to herself, “they would never be perfect, they couldn’t be. No diamonds would be pristine enough for my perfect neck.” And with that, young Ebony turned a corner and left the shadowy street. And, although the many villagers lay soundly asleep in their beds, dreaming of their drinks, and laughs, and merry carols, the wind still blew, the moon still shone upon the houses, and the snow still twinkled like a million splendid diamonds.

The End

The Tea Party

~A Short Story~

They sat in silence for a long time, sipping their tea and observing each other’s dresses. Every now and then, one of them would reach for a dainty sugar cube, or stir more cream into her porcelain cup, never removing her gaze from the other’s perfectly powdered faces. Tiny, colorful cakes and cookies of various sizes were placed atop the cleanly embroidered tablecloth, they attracted the attention of passing bees and hungry caterpillars who shared the summer afternoon with the five, silent ladies. The air was hot, far too hot for anyone’s liking, and the humid atmosphere clung to the scalps of the five woman, causing them to flap their feathered fans wildly at their steady faces, and lift their blouses ever so gently so that the air from their flapping would have a chance to reach their stuffy bodies. Sugared cakes and pots of blackberry honey melted in place, warm and sticky, and yearning for the shade of a nearby willow tree. Just a quarter past three, the midday sun so graciously fell to the west of the summertime sky, hiding behind the yearned-for willow and casting the teatime table in a cool cloth of afternoon shade.

The first to notice the delightful shade was Mary, who sat on the far end of the table, closest to the tangerine tart, and the happiest in her seclusion from the others. She was in the middle of serving herself yet another creamy slice, when the shade fell overhead and cast her plate in the shadows of the mighty willow tree. The others, content in their staring and sipping, and flapping of fans, did not notice the uninvited guest of shade. It wasn’t until she with the tangerine tart opened her painted lips and spoke with delighted determination.

“I say, how lovely!” she gleamed and dove her silver fork into the chewy tart. “If it wasn’t for the three o’clock shade, I would hardly understand why we have these little parties at all! Truly, if only we moved teatime just an hour later, we wouldn’t have to sit in that dreadful sun for so long.”

“Mary, darling,” said one of the others who sat closest to the melting honey pot, “you know why teatime must be at two o’clock exactly, we’ve discussed this matter before. Charlotte must return home to George by four o’clock sharp, and two hours is hardly enough time to converse as it is! Can you all imagine if we had yet an hour less?” She lifted her ivory-gloved hand and gently rubbed the tip of her nose, never removing her gaze from Mary’s direction. Charlotte, who sat opposite the berry teacakes and candied lemon peels, ever so slightly shifted in her chair, adjusting the elaborately decorated hat that rested atop her auburn curls.

“I don’t mean to be a bother,” she said softly, swishing away an intruding bee as she spoke, “although I do enjoy our teatime with each other, ever so much. We talk about the loveliest things, I don’t know how I’d survive without the stories my dear friends share with me! They feed my soul; I need the stories to move on with life. I also need teacakes!” she said as she reached for a sugared cake and placed it delicately atop her tongue. Daisy yawned.

“Well,” she said “if someone doesn’t tell me an entertaining story, I fear I might just fall asleep on the spot!” Mary giggled, and bits of savory tart escaped her lips, falling upon the embroidered tablecloth and resting peacefully before she finally wiped the crumbs away with her glove.

“I have a story, Daisy!” said another drinker of tea and flapper of fan. This attendee guarded the teapot, cream, and sugar cubes, and was in a relative state of undress compared to the elaborate others. Daisy straightened in her corset,

“Oh! Do tell, Grace. You always tell the best stories.” And so she did. And the sounds of lady’s chatter and laughter could be heard throughout the countryside, through the trees, across the stream, and far beyond the golden fields of wheat that shriveled in the intense summer heat. But, a gentle breeze lifted the laughter far beyond the perfectly groomed landscape. Nature’s breath of sweet air pushed the sounds of teatime far across the valleys and into the tiny town that rested amongst a grove of native alder trees. Sitting peacefully under one of the trees, enjoying a fine read in the cool shade, was George who, although rather preoccupied by his insightful novel, could not help but ignore the glorious sounds that escaped the afternoon tea party. He lifted his eyes to gaze upon the glistening horizon.

“Whatever could those ladies be giggling about?” he thought to himself. “Why, the chaps and I don’t make such a racket at our gatherings, even when we’re dead drunk!” George closed his book and removed his shiny watch from the chest pocket where it so tranquilly rested. He flipped the face open and gazed down upon the delicate hands.

“Quarter ‘till!” He said gleefully, “I better make my way to the tea party to collect Charlotte, I shouldn’t like her to spend too much time in the sun, nibbling on sugar and sipping caffeine.” And with that, George set down his novel, placed his shiny hat back atop his head, grabbed his walking cane and started down the winding path towards the tea gardens, content in himself and the excellent care he provided his wife.

“And so,” Grace continued, “I didn’t realize he was speaking to the woman behind me, until she finally nudged me out of the way!” The others roared with laughter. Fans flew from their gloved hands, teacups rattled in their saucers and spilled sweet, milky tea upon the white tablecloth. Mary nearly toppled from her chair, she laughed so hard her eyes grew foggy with tears and impended her view of the remaining four attendees. Grace dabbed at her own eyes with a handkerchief. Daisy fanned wildly at her bosom, all the while observing Charlotte who appeared to have trouble breathing from the wild laughter.

“Far too much sugar!” Mary hollered across the table as she helped herself to another slice of tart, and subtly placed three additional sugar cubes into her steaming cup of tea.

“Oh, what an afternoon, what a day, what a summer!” Charlotte nestled into her chair and threw her arms up wildly towards the willows overhead.

“What a goddamn hot summer!” Hollered Prudence, who had nearly drunk an entire pot of tea all by herself, and now sat limply in her seat like a withered rag doll. Grace lifted her feathered fan and began flapping wildly at Prudence’s rosy cheeks. The ladies had devoured all but one morsel of sugar, and Mary eyed the remaining cookie cautiously from her end of the table. Daisy picked up the chocolate confection and hit it out of sight.

“Oh look!” she said, placing the cookie in her purse for later, “There’s George! It must be later than I thought! Oh goodness, what silliness I’ve been encouraging, I nearly forgot the time.” Charlotte glanced over her shoulder to observe her impeccably well-dressed husband advancing towards the party. She straightened in her seat and fixed her lopsided hat, then ever so gently wiped the dainty crumbs from their spot upon her blouse.

“Oh yoo-hoo! George darling! What a pleasant surprise.” Prudence called to the strolling gentleman. “You are ever so kind to keep us reminded of the time, we wouldn’t want to linger on such a perfectly long summer day, would we ladies?” The others giggled and hid their smiles with delicate gloves and dainty lap cloths. George remained unamused. He simply continued to walk towards the table, eyes fixed on his wife. Charlotte, who was quite thoroughly humiliated by Prudence’s lack of shame, quickly stood and adjusted her satin constrictions.

“Darling!” she said when her intruding husband finally reached the party. “We were only just finished, oh what pleasant conversations have kept us company” George smiled politely, before taking his wife’s hand and saying,

“Come now, it’s getting awfully late, we wouldn’t want to be late for dinner. I’ve missed you, my dear.” Mary snorted, and quickly tried to cover the dreadful act with dainty cough. The others watched as Charlotte and her husband strolled slowly away from the tea party. They looked as though they were two, perfect silhouettes cast against the vibrant yellow of the distant fields, and their movements danced on the horizon in complete harmony with the falling sun.

“Tell me darling, did you have a pleasant party?” George said to his wife as they strolled down the cobblestone path, nearing their tiny and peaceful village.

“Lovely.” Charlotte gleamed, “I only wish we had more time.” George nodded,

“What ever do you ladies talk about?” he asked, eyes fixed upon his wife’s dainty face. “I’m ever so curious.” Charlotte only slightly smiled.

“Oh, nothing too terribly interesting, just some lovely conversation with some lovely friends.” And with that, George removed his gaze from Charlotte’s direction. The couple continued onward down the path, towards their village, towards their home, and far from the sweet-smelling tea party that lingered long into dusk.

The End